Razor clam inspires design of robo anchor that digs itself in mudflats

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Washington, November 23 (ANI): Scientists have been inspired by the razor clam to design a robotic lightweight anchor that can dig itself in mudflats to hold small underwater submersibles.

"The best anchoring technology out there is an order or magnitude worse than the clam - most are two or three orders worse," said Anette Hosoi of MIT.

Using relatively simple anatomy, the bivalve burrows into the bottom of its native mudflats at a rate of a centimeter per second.

Hosoi's studies of the physics behind this remarkable ability have revealed that the digging is accomplished in two motions - a push upwards with its foot, which mixes the grains of solid into the liquid above, and a synchronized push down.

By borrowing this principle, Hosoi and graduate student Amos Winter have created a simple robot that is now being tested out in the salt water mudflats off of Cape Cod.

It digs just as fast as the living clam and is "small, lightweight, and does not use a lot of energy," said Hosoi.

The robot is operated electronically via a tether and is made to open and close via pressured air from a scuba tank. (ANI)

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