A robot can start out of the water and glide like a flying fish18. September 2019
A robot can start out of the water and glide like a flying fish
Mirko Kovac and his colleagues at Imperial College London have developed a robot that can lift itself out of the water and travel up to 26 metres through the air.
The robot weighs 160 grams and can be used to monitor marine samples. It could take water samples by jumping into and out of the water in confusing environments and avoiding obstacles such as ice in cold regions or floating objects after a flood.
“In such situations, it is important to fly there quickly, take a sample and come back,” says Kovac.
The flying robot consists of a small tank that passively refills with water from its aquatic environment. It is powered by calcium carbide, a chemical powder that reacts with water to produce combustible acetylene gas. When the gas is ignited by a spark, it expands and pushes out a jet of water that propels the robot into the air.
The robot can jump several times after refilling with water, which could allow it to take several samples per flight.
The team tested the robot in a laboratory, a lake and a wave tank. Next, they will test whether it can be used to monitor the oceans around coral reefs and offshore energy platforms.