Scientists Lay the Foundation for Water-Walking Drones

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Scientists at Utah State University’s Splash Lab unveiled a new insight into ‘water skipping’. This common past time of children can make way for walking drones on water in the near future.

The researchers studied how elastic spheres interact with water and skip over a tank of water to move progressively. Additionally, they used high-speed cameras to record that elastic spheres gain momentum over a first several impacts. Consequently, this causes oblong and deformed shape among spheres near the shore.

Scientists finally discovered that water skipping takes place in two different modes. In the first one, spheres skip once during a full rotation. In the second, spheres skip twice every full rotation. This observation led researchers to come up with an equation that can predict and control the skip movement.

According to Utah State University’s Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Tadd Truscott, the new research provides insights into ocean engineering and naval operations. He also said this research allows scientists to envision practical uses like water-walking drones.

The research was a collaboration between the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, R.I, Utah State University, and Brown University. The research was published in Scientific Reports, a reputed research journal.

A Playful Discovery and a Serious Application

Tadd Truscott’s initial setup for this experiment looked extremely joyous. He started out with a curiosity to understand impact of elastic spheres in slow motion, thanks to extended play-time with his son and nephew. However, his fun and games did not last very long. Today, he is conducting an experiment funded by the US navy. This research might pave way for additional safety of inflatable boats.

The research can also combine different technologies to put forward a serious application. In 2017, scientists unveiled an advanced version of RoboBee, an aerial-to-aquatic robot. The new version was a thousand times lighter. Additionally, it is capable of propelling itself out of water and land safely on land.

Hence, combined with earlier applications like RoboBee, the new research can propel advanced research under water, search and rescue operations. Furthermore, the new application can make way for environment monitoring, and wartime applications as well.

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