The ‘FlipperBot’ Is Almost as Cute as the Baby Sea Turtles It Mimics
This adorable little Flipper Bot was designed to mimics the motion of baby turtles as they crawl across a beach toward the ocean. The speed with which it crawls has a lot to do with an individual turtle’s survival, and along the way, some baby turtles may get stuck in a rut created by the turtles that went before it.
Scientists at Georgia Tech and Northwestern University built the Flipper Bot to understand the motion the turtles use as they cross the sand. This is valuable not only with respect to sea turtle conservation, but also with respect to beach restoration:
Umbanhowar said understanding beach surfaces and how turtles move is important because many beaches in the United States are often subject to beach nourishment programs, where sand is dredged and dumped to prevent erosion.
“If you are restoring a beach, it might be the wrong kind of sand or deposited in a way that is unnatural,” Umbanhoward said. “In order for this turtle to advance, it has to generate these kind of thrust forces and it may be unable to get their flippers into it. We could say something about that given our models.”