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Snails have an uncommon means of strolling that has now been replicated in a robotZuzha/Shutterstock
A mucus-excreting robotic with a single giant foot can successfully imitate the way in which snails crawl over surfaces – even steeply inclined ones.
“I all the time say that snails are like Michael Jackson to me. You don’t see how they transfer, however someway gliding is going on,” stated Saravana Prashanth Murali Babu on the College of Southern Denmark throughout a presentation on the American Bodily Society’s March Assembly in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on 4 March.
Fascinated by the shelled molluscs, Saravana and his colleagues determined to construct a model of a snail’s single giant, tender foot and use it as the idea of a robotic that strikes like a snail.

Throughout his presentation, Saravana defined that the workforce selected to construct the foot from a tender materials that may very well be inflated in segments by small pneumatic pumps. He says that whereas the chemical properties of snail mucus have beforehand been studied intimately, the way in which the snail’s foot strikes had solely been hypothesised based mostly on biologists’ observations. These previous research proposed that completely different components of a snail’s foot hit the bottom, then detach from it earlier than hitting it once more, and so they achieve this out of sync with one another. This creates a wave kind throughout the foot that lets the snail glide ahead on its mucus.
The researchers replicated this “pedal wave” movement of their experimental robotic, which may additionally excrete mucus, and noticed it efficiently transfer ahead and make turns with out falling over. It even managed to maneuver up steeply inclined surfaces in some experiments, says Saravana.
The snail robotic with out its shellSaravana Prashanth Murali Babu/College of Southern Denmark
Though the bot remains to be on the experimental stage, Saravana hopes that it’ll develop into the primary ever robotic that propels itself like a snail. To make it extra self-contained, the workforce is experimenting with placing the pumps in a snail-like shell on prime of the robotic. The shell – a barely outsized plastic reproduction of an actual snail shell – can even home electronics for remotely controlling the robotic, and a syringe system for releasing mucus beneath the robotic foot, mimicking an actual snail’s slimy path.
The workforce’s last purpose, nonetheless, is to make the robotic’s inflatable foot even softer and extra just like actual snails, whose our bodies are largely manufactured from water. The researchers hope {that a} robotic that efficiently strikes on mucus may inform the design of sentimental medical robots that would ultimately transfer contained in the human physique the place mucus can be ample.


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