Researchers at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) have developed a small plastic robot that cleans water and transports cells.
A coral polyp inspired the mini robot. A polyp’s a small, soft, tentacled organism that makes up corals in the ocean. It moves under the influence of magnetism and light.
“I was inspired by the movement of these coral polyps,” researcher, Marina Pilz Da Cunha, says. “Especially by their self-generated water flow. They use this to interact well with their environment.”
The living polyp’s trunk makes a rotating movement. That causes the surrounding water to start moving. Floating particles then end up on the mini robot. The light-reactive tentacles grab the food particles that float past.
Could clean water
The nifty thing about this mini robot is that it functions independently of the fluid in which it’s placed. “Our robot works exactly the same in salty or polluted water,” Marina says. “In fact, the polyp may soon be able to filter pollution out of the water. It will catch it with its tentacles.”
Pilz Da Cunha previously worked on a mini ‘package’ delivery robot.
Editor: Melinda Walraven