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:4/6/2017)... April 6, 2017 Forecasts by ... Document Readers, by End-Use (Transportation & Logistics, Government & ... Gas & Fossil Generation Facility, Nuclear Power), Industrial, Retail, ... Are you looking for a definitive report ... ...
(Date:4/3/2017)... 3, 2017  Data captured by IsoCode, ... detected a statistically significant association between the ... treatment and objective response of cancer patients ... predict whether cancer patients will respond to ... well as to improve both pre-infusion potency testing ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... , March 28, 2017 ... Biometrics), Hardware (Camera, Monitors, Servers, Storage Devices), Software (Video ... and Region - Global Forecast to 2022", published by ... in 2016 and is projected to reach USD 75.64 ... 2017 and 2022. The base year considered for the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:8/10/2017)... BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA, and CARDIFF, UK (PRWEB) , ... ... ... for optics and photonics, has announced an agreement establishing Kinokuniya Company Ltd. as ... relationship with SPIE as the exclusive sales representative for the SPIE Digital Library ...
(Date:8/10/2017)... ... August 10, 2017 , ... ... AptaFluor SAH Methyltransferase Assay , an enabling new high throughput screening (HTS) ... that drive cancer and other debilitating diseases. , Chemical modification of gene expression, ...
(Date:8/8/2017)... , ... August 08, 2017 , ... ... growth factors expressed in human cells, today announced the launch of HumanKine® ... of the type I family of interferons that activate Th1-type innate immune responses against ...
(Date:8/8/2017)... ... August 08, 2017 , ... ... cancer research and personalized medicine, today announced the launch of its second generation ... company’s first generation PD-L1 test, enabling highly sensitive and specific profiling and monitoring ...
Breaking Biology Technology: