Swimming robot from UC San Diego uses jet‑propelled locomotion to move rapidly underwater.

Benefits

  • Flexible
  • Efficient
  • Reduced energy usage

Applications

  • Underwater exploration
  • Medical treatment

UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

  • Goal 9: Industry Innovation & Infrastructure

The Challenge

Robots are capable of moving at fast speeds, but soft robots, especially underwater, have trouble moving quickly due to the slow propagation of their components. These robots also need a constant source of energy to move and if plugged into an external power source, the cord can hinder its motion.

Innovation Details

The swimming robot mimics the method of jet propulsion that cephalopods such as squids use to move through the water. The robot has a pressure chamber controlled by springs that periodically fills with water to inflate, and then releases the water to deflate. The water rushes through a nozzle during deflation, propelling the robot forward. When the robot repeatedly deflates, it reaches a certain thrust frequency, making the robot move smoothly and efficiently. The robot is also made of smart materials that camouflage the robot as it moves about.