Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

The Seahorse Tail

PostedOctober 11, 2015

Download File (mp3)

Anchor Lede:  Most animal tails are round, but a seahorse’s tail is square. Engineers want to know why…partly because it might be good for making things like robots.

Randy Atkins: The square shape of a seahorse tail skeleton seems to protect it from predators says Michael Porter, an engineer at Clemson University.

Michael Porter: It’s also better for grasping objects because it provides more surface area for the tail to grasp.

Randy Atkins: Porter made 3-D models of the seahorse tail to learn about its abilities.

Michael Porter: Now we’re trying to insert actuators into the skeleton and actually make it move.

Randy Atkins: He thinks the structures might provide armor for flexible robots that can get a better grip on things…and that the work will reveal more about seahorses too.

Michael Porter: Learning from biology to make engineering designs and applications and then using those designs and applications to further learn more about biology.

Randy Atkins: With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.