Navigation Links
An intersection of math and biology: Clams and snails inspire robotic diggers and crawlers
Date:11/11/2013

Engineering has always taken cues from biology. Natural organisms and systems have done well at evolving to perform tasks and achieve objectives within the limits set by nature and physics.

That is one of the reasons Anette Hosoi, professor of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, studies snails. Snails can move in any directionhorizontally, vertically, and upside downon various surfaces, be it sand, shells, tree barks or slick walls and smooth glass. One of the reasons for this is the sticky substance on their underbellies, which acts as a powerful lubricant and reduces friction during movement.

By studying and adapting the biological properties of the snail to robotic devices, Hosoi's group has been able to create a "RoboSnail," which can climb walls and stick to overhead surfaces much like its living counterpart. Such a device can have potential uses in invasive surgery and oil well drilling, among other applications.

Another organism of interest to Hosoi is the razor clam, which has an amazing ability to dig and wedge itself; it can burrow up to 30 inches in the sand. Hosoi's "RoboClam" has been developed with the intention of understanding the organism's behavior and mechanics as well as to explore the possibility of automated digging devices that use less energy than current technology and equipment.

The researchers found that while digging, the clam's up-and-down movement accompanied by opening and closing of its shell turns sand into the consistency of liquid quicksand. This in turn allows the clam to move quickly through the sand. Similar to the human version, the RoboClam vibrates, changing the solid seabed into fluid, allowing a worm-like foot to push down.

Clam-inspired robotic diggers could find use as automatic tethers and lightweight low-cost anchoring devices for small robotic submarines and even large ships and oil platforms. Devices that burrow into the seabed could also potentially be used as detonators for underwater mines.

Hosoi is not alone in looking to biology to instruct robotics development. Engineers around the world are turning to natural organisms like insects, fish and turtles to inspire the design of robots capable of performing specific tasks that automated devices have traditionally been unable to achieve. Mimicking natural organisms can also aid in improving the efficiency of many applications that are energetically expensive, since biological entities perform the same tasks with much higher efficiency.

It is important to not only copy the animals, but also to understand the biology of their mechanisms in order to take away the key features that allow them to do what they do. These types of biomechanical studies have led to a mutually beneficial partnership between mathematicians and biologists. Biologists can inform mathematical scientists as a goldmine of data is emerging as biology becomes more and more quantified. Mathematicians, in turn, can employ the tools of engineering and computation to analyze this data and offer new insights into the way animals move.


'/>"/>

Contact: Karthika Muthukumaraswamy
karthika@siam.org
267-350-6383
Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Molecular biology: Designer of protein factories exposed
2. Computational biology: Cells reprogrammed on the computer
3. Infection biology: How Legionella subverts to survive
4. Developmental neurobiology: How the brain folds to fit
5. FASEB SRC announces conference registration open for: Melatonin Biology: Actions & Therapeutics
6. The Quarterly Review of Biology: Why some fats are worse than others
7. Infection biology: The elusive third factor
8. Age matters to Antarctic clams
9. Cryptic clams: U-M biologists find species hiding in plain view
10. Drivers of marine biodiversity: Tiny, freeloading clams find the key to evolutionary success
11. Stress makes snails forgetful
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/17/2016)... 2016 ABI Research, the leader in ... biometrics market will reach more than $30 billion ... 2015. Consumer electronics, particularly smartphones, continue to boost ... to reach two billion shipments by 2021 at ... , Research Analyst at ABI Research. "Surveillance is ...
(Date:3/14/2016)... , Allemagne, March 14, 2016 ... http://www.apimages.com ) - --> - Renvoi : ... - --> --> ... solutions biométriques, fournit de nouveaux lecteurs d,empreintes digitales ... LF10 de DERMALOG sera utilisé pour produire des ...
(Date:3/10/2016)... BLUE BELL, Pa. , March 10, 2016   ... U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is testing ... in San Diego to help identify ... United States . The test, designed to help determine ... outdoor, pedestrian environment, began in February and will run until ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/4/2016)... ... May 04, 2016 , ... The Children’s Tumor Foundation ... that causes tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body. It affects 1 in ... numerous community events held during the month of May, as well as online activities, ...
(Date:5/4/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... May 04, 2016 , ... PBI-Gordon Corporation ... and Agricultural Sales. , Doug began his career at PBI-Gordon in February 1988, ... in a wide variety of roles, ranging from customer service to national product manager, ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... 2016 The report "Biochips ... Gene Expression) Lab-on-a-chip (IVD & POC, Proteomics), ... Centers), Fabrication Technology (Microarrays, Microfluidics) - Forecast ... is expected to reach USD 17.75 Billion ... 2015, growing at a CAGR of 18.4% ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... ... 03, 2016 , ... In a list published by the Boston Business Journal, ... private companies; a small percentage of the state's 615,000+ small businesses. The list examined ... in revenue from 2012 to 2015. , As this award comes on ...
Breaking Biology Technology: