BOB HIRSHON (host):
Introducing Robo-Clam. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
With an eye toward useful robots, engineers at MIT are unraveling the secrets of the Atlantic razor clam. These oblong clams, which look like old-fashioned razor handles, can quickly burrow into the sea floor using very little energy. Mechanical engineer Amos Winter’s team figured out how the clam sets itself up for success: by contracting its shell in a precisely timed manner.
AMOS WINTER (Massachusetts Institute of Technology):
And what that does is it pulls water in around them, and it liquefies the soil right adjacent to their body. So it basically makes a little pocket of quicksand.
Using this knowledge, Winter and his colleagues built a machine that could do the same thing. He says the robo-clams could be used as energy-efficient anchors for things like underwater cables, or larger autonomous robots that explore the undersea world. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.