MIT researchers have developed the RoboClam, a miniature robot that tunnels like a razor clam, with underwater anchoring technology in mind, via
The device mimics the digging action used by razor clams to turn solid soil into liquid “quicksand”, helping them slide through.
A prototype is described in the journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics by engineers from MIT in Boston, US.
They set out to design a new low-power, light-weight anchor for autonomous underwater vehicles.
“Luckily, nature had already done the work for us,” said Dr Kerstin Nordstrom, of the University of Maryland, who collaborated on the research.
The answer was poking out of mudflats off the coast at nearby Gloucester, MA.
The Atlantic razor clam, Ensis directus, has been dubbed “the Ferrari of underwater diggers”.
An animal of its modest frame (10-20cm) should only be strong enough to penetrate 2cm into packed sand. But it can burrow up to 70cm in just over a minute.
Compared to existing anchor technology “the razor clam is about 10 times more efficient,” Dr Nordstrom told BBC News.
To dig for half a kilometre, it would only use the energy in an AA battery.
“But when you try plunging the shell into the sand, it doesn’t actually penetrate very far,” said Dr Nordstrom.
“What this shows is the clam must be actively doing something to the ground when it digs.”
RoboClam testing apparatus
The prototype was bulky but RoboClam will be developed into a sleeker unit
To find out the razor clam’s secret, they studied its digging action and modelled it mechanically.
The repeated open-shut of the clam’s valves turned the hard-packed soil around it into quicksand.
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the
drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
Join 27,000+ makers on
Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community! http://adafru.it/discord
Have an amazing project to share? The
Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.
Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for
Ask an Engineer! Follow Adafruit on Instagram for top secret new products, behinds the scenes and more https://www.instagram.com/adafruit/ VIDEO CircuitPython – The easiest way to program microcontrollers – CircuitPython.org
Maker Business — To make it through a tough business cycle, layoffs should be a last resort Wearables — Frame it with PVC Electronics — Tristates! Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: CircuitPython available for 200 boards, MicroPython release and more! #Python #Adafruit #CircuitPython @micropython @ThePSF Adafruit IoT Monthly — ESP Earrings, RP2040 WiFi, and more! Microsoft MakeCode — Mechanical Coin Bank EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — JP’s Product Pick of the Week — 4pm Eastern TODAY! 4/20/21 @adafruit @johnedgarpark #adafruit #newproductpick
Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at
No comments yet.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.