A number of tiny robots that can walk on water have been developed that could skim across lakes and other bodies of water to monitor water quality or conduct surveillance operations, but none have been able to make leaps across the water as a water strider does.
Now researcher Qinmin Pan of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, and his colleagues say they've build a true water-striding robot that can both walk and leap on water.
Their robot, with porous, super water-repellent nickel on its three supporting and two jumping legs, can leap more than 5.5 inches, despite weighing as much as 1,100 water striders.
In tests the robot has jumped nearly 14 inches forward -- more than twice its own length -- leaving the water at about 3.6 miles per hour, the researchers said.
The ability to leap as well as walk will make the bio-inspired microrobot more agile and better able to avoid obstacles it encounters on the water's surface, they said.
The research has been published in the American Chemical Society's journal Applied Material & Interfaces.