Tiny robot that can imitate the Mantis shrimp’s mighty punch

The research group had previously produced RoboBee, a tiny robot capable of untethered flight

Tiny robot that can imitate the Mantis shrimp’s mighty punch

One of nature’s most powerful and fastest strikes belongs to the mantis shrimp. The force of these hits is comparable to that of a.22-caliber bullet. As a result, scientists interested in learning more about relevant biomechanics will find the species intriguing as a research subject. It could potentially lead to the development of small robots that can move as quickly and as forcefully as humans. A team of Harvard University researchers devised a new model for the mantis shrimp’s powerful appendage and developed a tiny robot to imitate that action, according to a recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

According to senior author Robert Wood, they are drawn to nature’s unusual behaviours, especially when they go beyond what can be achieved by human-made instruments. He uses the tremendous strikes of mantis shrimp as an illustration. They were able to explore the underlying mechanism in depth by developing a human-made model. Wood’s research group had previously produced RoboBee. RoboBee X-Wing, a more advanced version, was released in 2019.

According to a 2018 study, the stretched anatomical structure of the shrimp’s arms appears to be the basis for its massive punch. The shrimp’s arm muscles pull on a saddle-shaped structure, which allows it to bend and store energy, which is released when the club-like claw swings. Sclerites, tiny structures found in muscular tendons, serve as the latch in this latch-like mechanism. Biologists have discovered a 1-millisecond delay between the unlatching and snapping motions in mantis shrimps after years of investigation.

When the sclerites release and the appendage fires on an ultra-high-speed camera, there is a time delay, according to co-first author Nak-seung (Patrick) Hyun, a postdoctoral researcher at SEAS. No one has been able to come up with the mechanism of a different method for keeping the appendage in place.