Navigation Links
University of Tennessee engineering professor looks to whirligig beetle for bio-inspired robots
Date:12/4/2012

Whirligig beetles are named for their whirling movement on top of water, moving rapidly in and taking off into flight.

While many may have found the movements curious, scientists have puzzled over the apparatus behind their energy efficiencyuntil now, thanks to a study performed by a team led by Mingjun Zhang, associate professor of mechanical, aerospace and biomedical engineering, at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

"The propulsive efficiency of the species has been claimed in literature to be one of the highest measured for a thrust-generating apparatus within the animal kingdom," Zhang said. "But nobody knew exactly why, so we conducted a quantitative study with experiment support that uncovered this mystery."

Zhang saw the curious beetle as inspiration for developing energy-efficient propulsion mechanisms for swimming vehicles and robots. His team discovered separate leg functions, alternative patterns of leg propulsion, a unique take-off technique and maximizing surface area as key to the beetle's inner workings.

The findings have been published in this month's PLOS Computational Biology.

His team performed a combination of microscopic high-speed imaging, dynamics modeling and simulations to unlock the beetle's secret.

They discovered each of the beetle's three pairs of legs conducts a different function. Their curved swimming trajectories gained energy efficient over linear trajectories by alternating the ways leg propelled. Using high-speed cameras, the researchers observed that the beetles beat their legs in different directions in order to transition from swimming to diving. This provides the force required to alter the angle of the body's tilt and break the surface tension of water. Finally, the swimming legs rely on the extension of "swimming laminae" to increase the surface area and generate larger thrust.

"Nature folds the laminae, or a thin tissue, after the beetle is done moving its legs," Zhang said. "It extends it when it is propelling to generate thrust. The legs may also be oriented at different angles, so that the maximum area is not perpendicular to the direction in which the beetle is moving. I am always amazed how nature does this with the small organism."

Zhang's team looks to nature for inspiration in engineering. By studying the movements of the whirligig beetle, the team is applying nature's principles to bio-inspired swimming and diving robots. He is designing the robots for the Office of Naval Research through their Young Investigator Program award which he received in 2011. The award gives him $170,000 in annual research grants for three years.


'/>"/>

Contact: Whitney Heins
wheins@utk.edu
865-974-5460
University of Tennessee at Knoxville
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. University of Houston study shows BP oil spill hurt marshes, but recovery possible
2. University of Alberta led research may have discovered how memories are encoded in our brains
3. BGI, University of Helsinki and Wuhan University sign a MOU concerning cooperation on genomics
4. Marshall University study may lead to new treatments for prostate cancer
5. University leads £6 million EU project to tackle obesity
6. A University of Tennessee professors hypothesis may be game changer for evolutionary theory
7. Life expectancy may affect when you get married, divorced, have kids: Queens University study
8. University of Toronto biologists predict extinction for organisms with poor quality genes
9. University of Minnesota invention helps advance reliability of alternative energy
10. Israel names Tel Aviv Universitys Renewable Energy Center a Center of Research Excellence
11. University of Minnesota startup offers game-changing energy solutions that reduce CO2 emissions
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/28/2016)... BANGALORE, India , April 28, 2016 ... subsidiary of Infosys (NYSE: INFY ), and Samsung ... global partnership that will provide end customers with a ... and payment services.      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130122/589162 ... for financial services, but it also plays a fundamental part ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... , April 15, 2016  A new ... make more accurate underwriting decisions in a fraction ... timely, competitively priced and high-value life insurance policies ... screenings. With Force Diagnostics, rapid testing ... lifestyle data readings (blood pressure, weight, pulse, BMI, ...
(Date:3/31/2016)... PROVIDENCE, R.I. , March 31, 2016  Genomics ... leadership of founding CEO, Barrett Bready , M.D., ... addition, members of the original technical leadership team, including ... Vice President of Product Development, Steve Nurnberg and Vice ... have returned to the company. Dr. Bready ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/22/2016)... ... May 22, 2016 , ... Doctors in Rome say micronutrients found in ... malignant mesothelioma. Surviving Mesothelioma has just posted an article on the new research. ... Department of Clinical Sciences and Translational Medicine evaluated more than 150 studies on polyphenols ...
(Date:5/19/2016)... ... May 19, 2016 , ... Anton Paar USA, located in Ashland, Virginia ... is complete. The new structure adds a third office building to the current facilities. ... purchased 2.4 acres of land, along with office space adjacent to the previous main ...
(Date:5/19/2016)... -- - I dati saranno presentati nel ... ° Congresso della Società Americana ... - Le conclusioni dello studio indicano un tasso di risposta ... il 90% presenta una d urata della risposta (Duration ... per cento dei pazienti ha riscontrato un beneficio clinico. ...
(Date:5/18/2016)... ... May 18, 2016 , ... Every day, more than 5,400 ... complications.* Costing more than $56 billion in direct costs annually, asthma remains a ... many, the suffering associated with uncontrolled asthma can be overwhelmingly disproportionate and better ...
Breaking Biology Technology: