Robotics have come quite a far way from being something that we used to read about or see in sci-fi movies. Today, thanks to the advances in technology and science we are witnessing the dawn of robotic era. Keeping this in mind, it doesn’t come as a surprise that a lot of robots are being based on current organisms or creatures (MIT Cheetah-Robot being one). The razor Clam, seldom proclaimed for its dexterity, is believed to be an amazing digger. Engineers at MIT stole some of the tricks from this slip, small size mollusk and designed an efficient aquatic machine called RoboClam.
The razor clam squeezes its shells together while burrowing and the surrounding sand places itself into the newly created slot. When it squeezes further, water is drawn into the mix and a pocked of quicksand is created, through which the clam pulls itself easily.
The RoboClam works in a similar manner, the version 2.0 is in progress now. In this version the electric actuator expand and contracts the three aluminum wedges attached to it that allows it to turn nearby sand into a slurry. The weight of the cylindrical unit then allows it to sink slightly, and the process is repeated.
“A razor clam can dig one third of a mile through underwater soil on the amount of energy in a double-A battery,” says mechanical engineer Amos Winter. The RoboClam 1.0 is said to use 10 times as much, but as it has more mass, its efficiency is comparable to the razor clam. And unlike other industrial diggers, the energy taken by Robo-Clam does not increase exponentially as it goes deeper.
Amos Winter has his vision of RoboClam anchoring other undersea robots, help blowing up underwater mines, exploring oceans that have never been explored and acting as security for the underwater cables.