Inspired by the way razor clams dig into the seafloor sediment, MIT researchers have built a robotic anchor for autonomous water vehicles. About the size of a cigarette lighter, the prototype RoboClam imitates the way the real clam's "foot" works its way into the sand. Learn more at the MIT site and don't miss the video of a real razor clam in action. From MIT News:
"Our original goal was to develop a lightweight anchor that you could set then easily unset, something that's not possible with conventional devices," said Anette "Peko" Hosoi, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering whose collaborators on the work are Amos Winter, a graduate student in her lab, and engineers at Bluefin Robotics Corp.RoboClam
Such devices could be useful, for example, as tethers for small robotic submarines that are routinely repositioned to monitor variables such as currents and temperature. Further, a device that can burrow into the seabed and be directed to a specific location could also be useful as a detonator for buried underwater mines.