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Jumping on water, surface tension-dominated jumping of water striders and robotic insects
Koh, J.S., Yang, E., Jung, G.P., Jung, S.P., Son, J.H., Lee, S.I., Jablonski, P.G., Wood, R.J., Kim, H.Y. and Cho, K.J.
Jumping on water is a unique locomotion mode found in semi-aquatic arthropods, such as water striders. To reproduce this feat in a surface tension–dominant jumping robot, we elucidated the hydrodynamics involved and applied them to develop a bio-inspired impulsive mechanism that maximizes momentum transfer to water. We found that water striders rotate the curved tips of their legs inward at a relatively low descending velocity with a force just below that required to break the water surface (144 millinewtons/meter). We built a 68-milligram at-scale jumping robotic insect and verified that it jumps on water with maximum momentum transfer. The results suggest an understanding of the hydrodynamic phenomena used by semi-aquatic arthropods during water jumping and prescribe a method for reproducing these capabilities in artificial systems.