Robotics: A diving robot practices going ashore |

American researchers have developed a robot that can move both in water and on land. His fins can be turned into legs.

Whether in the water or on land – this amphibious robot feels at home in both habitats.

Without much effort, he can switch back and forth between swimming and walking.

The only thing that changes is how his four limbs work.

In the water they serve as fins, on land as legs.

The robot, which is around 0.4 by one meter tall, was constructed by researchers from Yale University in New Haven.

Manfred Lindinger

Editor in the department “Nature and Science”.

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As Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio and her colleagues write in the journal “Nature”, a turtle was the inspiration for their robot.

In the water, the machine swims and dives almost as elegantly as a sea turtle.

They mainly use their front fins for this purpose.

When she comes out of the water, she first crawls along the ground.

When she finally has solid ground under her feet, the four flippers become four legs.

With that she gets up and walks around like a tortoise.

In comparison to its natural model, however, it comes across as quite shaky and awkward.

The robot has amphibious capabilities thanks to the design of its four limbs, each about 20 centimeters long.

They act like artificial muscles used in the field of soft robotics.

When heated, they become soft and elastic and act as fins.

As it cools, the material becomes stiff and hard.

It also changes its shape, and the fins turn into legs.

The fins or legs are driven by four motors, which are housed with a controller in the plastic housing.

An external line provides the power supply.

The robot made its first attempts at swimming in a pool and then in a pond near the campus.

The researchers then let the robot walk around on surfaces of different textures.

While he did well on grass and tarmac, he struggled on sandy surfaces.

The researchers switched to a crawling mode of locomotion, such as that used by sea turtles when they come ashore to lay their eggs on a beach.

According to the researchers, because the robot is able to optimally adapt to environmental conditions, it can serve as a model for a future generation of amphibious autonomous robots.

Possible applications are the monitoring of ecosystems along the coast.

The robot can also support divers on their expeditions.

Until then, however, the researchers working with Kramer-Bottiglio still have to improve their tortoise’s ability to walk.


Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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