We report recent efforts in the design and construction of water-walking machines inspired by insects and spiders. The fundamental physical constraints on the size, proportion and dynamics of natural water-walkers are enumerated and used as design criteria for analogous mechanical devices. We report devices capable of rowing along the surface, leaping off the surface and climbing menisci by deforming the free surface. The most critical design constraint is that the devices be lightweight and non-wetting. Microscale manufacturing techniques and new man-made materials such as hydrophobic coatings and thermally actuated wires are implemented. Using high-speed cinematography and flow visualization, we compare the functionality and dynamics of our devices with those of their natural counterparts.
See Hu, Prakash, Chan and Bush (2010)