The bugs are called “water striders,” and their ability to run and jump on the surface of water, such as lakes, ponds, and just about any body of water, has long fascinated entomologists. Engineers are also excited as many are hoping to study the bug’s natural mechanics in order to develop robots that can mimic the bugs divine strides across the water.
However, scientists have been trying to figure out the water striders trick for decades now, and they have not learned much. This traditional lack of knowledge regarding this bug’s water-striding abilities is understandable considering that the bug is so light that its weight cannot even be measured by conventional instruments.
Recently a breakthrough occurred as scientists were finally able to use advanced techniques to determine the bugs slightest changes in body angle and weight. The scientists gained a more accurate insight into the bug’s movements by studying its shadows while it moved. The shadows magnify the particular movements of the bug, and as a result of careful observation, scientists are able to use this trick to determine an accurate estimate as to how much water is displaced with each movement of its legs. Eventually, engineers want to use the water strider as a model to develop robots that can skim across water. Why it is that science wants to see this device become a reality? Other than creating the world’s coolest robot, has, so far, been largely unspecified.
What practical applications could a water-skimming robot have that would benefit mankind?