Scientists build tiny robot capable of replicating the gunshot-power punch of Mantis Shrimps

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The Mantis Shrimp is a terrifying crustacean. Typically found within the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the 10-centimetre sea creature has a punch straight out of anime. Despite its small size, one super-fast punch is as powerful as a .22 calibre gunshot. Now, scientists have created a tiny robot capable of replicating that power.

Scientists build Mantis Shrimp-like tiny robot

Reported by Ars Technica, a team of Harvard University researchers have built a robot that mimics the crustacean. In nature, the Mantis Shrimp’s underwater punch averages around 68mph. These rapid strikes create bubbles that collapse with the force of 1,500 newtons, an aftershock that can kill prey instantly.

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Harvard University’s robot isn't an exact replica of the Mantis Shrimp’s power. The secret to the power generated by the creature’s latch-like limbs is hard to replicate at its size. However, the scientists have created a very similar power strike using latches inspired by pop-up books.

By layering and gluing folded paper, the scientists created artificial muscles with piezoelectric actuators. Attached to plastic hinges, these fake joints provided enough force to get close to the shrimp’s power.

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How powerful is it?

A video on Harvard Engineering states that the robot isn't “as far as a Mantis Shrimp”. However, the robot is “faster than any similar devices the same size”. In this early stage, the robot is still incredibly fast.

Compared to the shrimp’s 68mph strike, this robot comes in at just 58mph. This is still incredibly fast! Furthermore, the robot reaches these insane speeds in just 4 milliseconds.

This research is poised to help roboticists replicate over natural mechanics in the future. At the time of writing, research of replicating the jumping force of frogs or the tongue-flick of reptiles is on high priority.

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