The RoboBee project that Harvard first unveiled in 2013 has gone through a plethora of changes and upgrades. The latest one is its most advanced yet. It can stick to surfaces and go swim underwater. Now, researchers have upgraded the robotic bee to fly, dive into water and hop right back up into the air. This is a notable step because for a robot because it the tiny machine is only two centimeters tall and is about one-fifteenth the weight of a penny.
Like a flying fish gliding above the water's surface, a robot can now propel itself out of water into flight. Mirko Kovac and his colleagues at Imperial College London have developed a robot that can lift itself out of water and travel through the air for up to 26 metres. The robot weighs 160 grams and could be used for monitoring the ocean sampling. It could take water samples by jumping in and out of the water in cluttered environments, avoiding obstacles such as ice in cold regions or floating objects after a flood. "In these situations, it's important to fly there quickly, take a sample and come back," says Kovac.
To help explore underwater environments without damaging coral or sea life, engineers from UC San Diego created a robot squid (via Hackster.io). Soft robots are less likely to harm aquatic life than rigid ones. Researchers used mainly soft materials like acrylic polymer to build the device, along with a few 3D printed and laser-cut rigid parts. The team drew inspiration from the jet propulsion mechanism of real squid to help the robot swim by itself. It takes some water into its flexible body, where it also stores elastic energy.