One Giant Leap for Robot Kind

A super-tiny bot makes history in a single bound.

By Stephen C. George
Mar 31, 2016 5:00 AMNov 12, 2019 4:39 AM
The water-jumping robot was inspired by water striders. | Seoul National University


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Roboticists made a splash last year by building a robot that duplicated one of the natural world’s niftiest tricks: jumping on water. Inspired by water striders — insects that can hop upward from watery surfaces — researchers at Korea’s Seoul National University and Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering emulated the biomechanics necessary for their microrobot to vault 5.5 inches — more than 10 times its height — from water without breaking surface tension. Made from ultralight components, the tiny bot weighs just 0.002 ounce and gets its leaping power from a built-in catapult mechanism.

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