Baby sea turtles have an interesting way of moving across sand and into the ocean, and scientists have been studying these little creatures for quite a while. So much, in fact, that engineers are designing and building robots that replicate the movements of a baby sea turtle in order to better understand the origins of these animals.
The robot is called the FlipperBot, and it features two motor-driven flippers with flexible wrists that are similar to sea turtle wrists. The robot is designed to travel through malleable surfaces like sand, just like sea turtles, and these kids of robots could help engineers further develop robot technology that will allow robots to swim through water, as well as walk on land.
The FlipperBot is quite small, measuring in at about 7.5 inches long and weighing only two pounds. Scientists are using these kinds of newly-developed robots to better understand how turtle flippers work, as well as help researchers understand how sea turtles evolved to be able to walk on land, especially with limbs that were designed for swimming rather than walking.
Daniel Goldman, a physicist at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, says that these kinds of experiments will also work with other animals who have a long history. He says that him and his team are “working with paleontologists on studying what the first animals moving on land were like with more paleontologically realistic robots.” He notes that most animals likely encountered sand and mud, rather than concrete and hard rock, bringing up the question of how animals moved through these malleable substances.
[via Tech News Daily]