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:11/29/2016)... Nearly one billion matches per second with DERMALOG,s high-speed AFIS    ... ... DERMALOG is Germany's largest Multi-Biometric supplier: The ... Identification Systems) ... Germany's largest Multi-Biometric supplier: The company's Fingerprint Identification System is part of ...
(Date:11/24/2016)... -- Cercacor today introduced Ember TM Sport Premium ... measure hemoglobin, Oxygen Content, Oxygen Saturation, Perfusion Index, ... approximately 30 seconds. Smaller than a smartphone, using only ... key data about their bodies to help monitor these ... Hemoglobin carries oxygen to muscles. When hemoglobin and ...
(Date:11/22/2016)...   MedNet Solutions , an innovative SaaS-based eClinical ... research, is pleased to announce that the company has ... Sciences Awards as "Most Outstanding in eClinical Solutions" ... of recognition and growth for MedNet, which has effectively ... iMedNet ™ , MedNet,s flagship eClinical ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/6/2016)... ... December 06, 2016 , ... ProMIS ... of precision treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, today announced the validated monoclonal antibody ... direct neurotoxic effect of prion-like forms of Amyloid beta (Aß) in vitro. ...
(Date:12/5/2016)... Dec. 5, 2016 Axovant Sciences Ltd. (NYSE: ... focused on the treatment of dementia, today announced that ... treatment of Alzheimer,s disease will be presented at the ... Friday, December 9, 2016 in San Diego ... of both simple and complex measures of activities of ...
(Date:12/5/2016)... -- Research and Markets has announced the addition ... Companies" to their offering. ... , , This report ... technologies such as proteomics and metabolomics. Molecular diagnostics technologies are used ... on biomarker. Currently the most important applications of biomarkers ...
(Date:12/5/2016)... ... December 05, 2016 , ... ... resume cervical and lumbar disc production, company President, Jake Lubinski will be traveling ... implanting the AxioMed disc in Cologne and Karlsruhe to discuss the benefits of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: