Robot from Ben‑Gurion University of the Negev has propellers on its underside that enable it to both crawl on the ground and run across water. 

Benefits

  • Versatile on both land and water
  • Increased speed
  • Agile

Applications

  • Search and rescue
  • Surveillance

UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

  • Goal 9: Industry Innovation & Infrastructure

The Challenge

Robots often use extra limbs or wheels to move around. These appendages can be restrictive in certain environments or rough terrain, limiting the area the robot is capable of working in.

Innovation Details

The robot, known as AmphiSTAR, was inspired by cockroaches and it is designed to run on water at high speeds like the basilisk lizard. It is fitted underneath with four propellors, which act like wheels on the ground and like fins in the water. The axes of the propellors can be tilted and adjusted as needed and it also has two arms that hold the motor housing and propellers. The arms are able to move symmetrically away from the body to induce the sprawling mechanism that enables the robot to navigate rough terrain. When the propellers are at a certain angle and rotating at a high speed, the hovering mechanism is induced, enabling the robot to ‘run’ on water. Because the robot can move on land and on water, it is amphibious. The robot is able to crawl on land at speeds up to 8 mph (3.5 m/s) and on water up to 3.3 mph (1.5 m/s).

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Watch the AmphiSTAR robot in action.

Biomimicry Story

Basilisk lizards are able to run on water at high speeds because of the configuration of their toes. Their toes have have wrinkles of skin that spread out on the water to increase the surface area. As they run, they pump their legs rapidly and slap their feet on the water.

Cockroaches move over surfaces by moving their legs systematically. The long back legs, also called metathoracic legs, control the speed of the cockroach.