Harvard’s Ambulatory MicroRobot (HAMR) is Harvard’s new and impressive insect-inspired robot which can walk on (under) water as it does on land. The team behind HAMR was keen to mimic a cockroach’s ability to survive underwater for up to half an hour. This new functionality of the “robotic cockroach” is sure to pave way for many new potential applications.
The robot takes advantage of a force called surface tension to float on water, i.e. the miniature bot slightly sinks deforming the water surface and the upward force thus generated will be enough to support the robot’s weight on water. The asymmetric paddling, like that of a beetle’s, helps generate forward thrust by pushing back water.
One of the possible real-world applications of this new robot, according to Kevin Chen – Engineer at Harvard, is in the search-and-rescue and exploration. A swarm of these robots can be sent to search for survivors trapped under debris, and these bots need to bypass the obstacles on the water surface by diving, he explained.
The team at Harvard aspires to commercialize this technology due to its promising potentials. Ken added, “We are working under the Wyss Institute at Harvard University, which places an emphasis on translating research into commercial products… We are very excited and interested in commercializing this technology because it has many potential applications.”