Razor Clams are Inspiration for RoboClam, a Robotic Sand-Digging Anchor (Video)

roboclam photo

Photo via MIT

Biomimicry is again at the heart of new technology, this time for a solution to creating a better anchor. "The best anchoring technology out there is an order or magnitude worse than the clam - most are two or three orders worse," says Anette (Peko) Hosoi for MIT. She and graduate student Amos Winter have taken a keen look at the mighty clam and have come up with a robot that can mimic how the clam digs itself into the sand, named, aptly, the RoboClam. Operated electronically with a tether and pressured air from a scuba tank, the RoboClam can dig every bit as fast as a live clam, using the same techniques.

From Eurekalert, "Using relatively simple anatomy, the bivalve burrows into the bottom of its native mudflats at a rate of a centimeter per second. Hosoi's studies of the physics behind this remarkable ability have revealed that the digging is accomplished in two motions - a push upwards with its foot, which mixes the grains of solid into the liquid above, and a synchronized push down."

The RoboClam is being tested in the mudflats of Cape Cod, and seems to so far be energy efficient and effective. "Our original goal was to develop a lightweight anchor that you could set then easily unset, something that's not possible with conventional devices," said Hosoi. And the RoboClam could be partnered up with various other oceanic robots we've covered.

From MIT, "Such devices could be useful, for example, as tethers for small robotic submarines that are routinely repositioned to monitor variables such as currents and temperature. Further, a device that can burrow into the seabed and be directed to a specific location could also be useful as a detonator for buried underwater mines."

More on Biomimicry and Technology
Pollution-Patrolling Robotic Fish Have "Muscle" Movement Like Real Fish
Robot Fish Detects Contamination in the Sea in Northern Spain
NASA Uses Lotus Leaf As Inspiration for Space Gear Dust-Repellent

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