Robots on long survey missions need to conserve power whenever possible. What if they could just hitch a ride on whatever they’re studying? That’s the idea behind a new robot, inspired by remoras, fish that hitchhike onto other animals using an adhesive disc on top of their head.
Remoras use lamellae, slat-like bones encased in soft tissue, and spinules, rows of hard teeth-like tissue to create tight suction. In 2017, scientists created a disc inspired by these features. But the disc couldn’t suction with individual lamella, making it vulnerable to falling off.
In the new study, the researchers created a disc with redundant suctions, allowing it to attach to surfaces even if part of its disc was not fully attached.
Adding propellers on board enabled the robot to swim underwater and latch onto moving objects. The bot could also launch itself out of the water in less than half a second, scientists report this week in Science Robotics.
The researchers anticipate this robot being used in a variety of situations: from diving in the water to tag animals, to long term environmental surveys. Watch the video to see the robot tackle a variety of situations with ease.