Surf’s Up!


Inspired by honeybees and their ability to surf on capillary waves of their own making, researchers have developed SurferBot, a low-cost, untethered, vibration-driven surf robot. Built on a simple 3D-printed platform, the bot has a vibration motor powered by a simple coin cell battery. As the motor vibrates, it propels the bot forward (Image 2). With the motor placed off-center, the bot’s vibrations create larger capillary waves at the rear of the bot than at the front (Image 3). It’s this asymmetry that drives the robot forward. The flow pattern created by the bot’s propulsion is impressively strong (Image 4) and consists of a pair of counter-rotating vortices trapped ahead of the bot and a strong central jet in its wake.

Best of all: SurferBot is a great platform for educational experimentation, costing <$1 apiece! (Image and submission credit: D. Harris; research credit: E. Rhee et al.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.