Water snails offer new propulsion possibilitiesOctober 10th, 2008 - 4:55 pm ICT by ANI
Washington, Oct 10 (ANI): A UC (University of California) San Diego engineer has found that mimicking the movement of water snails could lead to new propulsion methods.
Eric Lauga, the engineer in question, has revealed a new mode of propulsion based on how water snails create ripples of slime to crawl upside down beneath the surface.
Lauga, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering, explains how and why water snails can drag themselves across a fluid surface that they cant even grip.
Based on Laugas research, the secret is in the slime.
The main finding of Laugas research is that soft surfaces, such as the free surface of a pond or a lake, can be distorted by applying forces.
These distortions can be exploited (by an animal, or in the lab) to generate propulsive forces and move.
Some freshwater and marine snails crawl by hanging from the water surface while secreting a trail of mucus.
The snails foot wrinkles into little rippling waves, which produces corresponding waves in the mucus layer that it secretes between the foot and the air.
Parts of the mucus film get squeezed, while other parts are stretched, creating a pressure that pushes the foot forward.
Lauga and his team demonstrated that water snails have to distort the surface in order to move. If they dont, they wont go anywhere, he said, explaining that these water snails naturally rise up due to their low weight, and therefore do not have to work to remain near the surface.
Lauga and his colleagues said their finding could lead to a new method of propulsion.
One of Laugas colleagues, Anette Hosoi of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has already imitated the adhesive/ lubricating propulsive method of land snails to drive a robotic device.
Now, as a result of this new water snail finding, the researchers said it may be possible to build similar devices that walk on water.
The water snails show us that this is possible, and therefore one can design biomimetic systems taking advantage of that movement, Lauga said.
An example of a biomimetic system that could be designed based on Laugas water snail research, according to Lauga, is small robotic swimmers, which could crawl underneath the free surface in a coordinated fashion.
This type of technology could be used for a number of small scale applications, such as aquatic military uses.
The military is always looking for new ways to navigate and control displacements, said Lauga. (ANI)
- Mimicking snails' movement could lead to new propulsion methods - Oct 10, 2008
- Heres how snails walk on waters surface - Jun 27, 2008
- Scientists explain how snails can walk on water - Oct 21, 2008
- Millions could be protected from worm-related infections - May 06, 2011
- 'Rework climate change models to save snails' - Feb 08, 2012
- Razor clam inspires design of robo anchor that digs itself in mudflats - Nov 23, 2009
- Caterpillars inspiring Next Gen robots - Apr 27, 2011
- Snake-like robo discovers how lizards swim through the sand - Feb 25, 2011
- Designing 'robofish' to steer fish away from oil spills - Mar 02, 2012
- Scientists design earthworm-like robot - Aug 10, 2012
- Nanotechnology could help smuggle drugs into the gut - Nov 05, 2010
- Soon, insect-like robots that crawl into creeks and carry heavy loads - Jul 03, 2010
- Now, a cream made of snail slime that promises to banish wrinkles! - Mar 28, 2011
- Now, a caterpillar-inspired soft robot that curls into a high-speed wheel - Apr 27, 2011
- Scientists design robots that walk on water - Aug 01, 2011
Tags: california san diego, fluid surface, free surface, hosoi, jacobs school, land snails, marine snails, massachusetts institute of technology, mucus layer, new water, propulsion, ripples, robotic device, school of engineering, slime, soft surfaces, university of california san diego, water snail, water snails, water surface