The robot that can walk on water

Picture: American Chemical Society

I love robots. I have ever since I was a kid. I blame K9.

When I worked on T3 back in the day, robots became a little bit of a hobby horse for me and I’d pounce on any chance to write about them. For a while I was even the proud owner of T3’s Sony AIBO dog. OK, I admit it. I saw AIBO as my ticket to fame and fortune. As soon as I’d unpacked the mechanical mutt from it’s box I was on the tour of Britain’s TV studios – BBC News, Watchdog, Granada’s Men and Motors. Everyone loved the little fellow and where he went, I was on hand to spout off about the future of personal robotics.

I’ve kept up with robotics ever since but haven’t written much about them – I’m hoping that, for reasons I can’t go into just yet, that will change soon, but in the meantime, please indulge me if I bang on about a little robo-news every now and then here on my blog.

Picture: American Chemical Society

This miraculous little fellow grabbed my attention this week. Scientists from the American Chemical Society (AMC) have unveiled an aquatic microrobot that mimics the abilities of the humble water strider and can scoot across the surface of water. True, there have been other robots with this capability over the last couple of years but they have been largely expensive, and surprisingly bulky, pieces of kit.

The tiny microrobot, which is about the size of a 10 pence piece, boasts ten wire legs and two motor-propelled oars. The splayed legs mimic the capabilities of water strider’s superhydrophobic (or water-repellent to you and me) limbs and even though the bionic bug weighs the same as roughly 390 water striders, if you think it would sink like a stone, you’d be wrong. The little fellow skims effortlessly across the surface, walking and turning like a pro.

Qinman Pan and the team of researches from ACS believe that microbug could turn 007, being fitted with a camera to perform top secret military spy missions or even help monitor water supplies and quality.

But unlike K9, it can’t shoot lasers from its nose…

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