World’s fastest-swimming insects could inspire US Navy

World’s fastest-swimming insects could inspire US Navy’s next drone boat

Turns out the Whirligig Beetle is something else to propel itself forward.

If there ever was to be an Olympics for insects, Whirligig beetles would stand out as the undisputed champions in swimming.

These diminutive beetles, the speedsters of the insect world, can hit a staggering peak acceleration of 100 meters per second and cruise at a top velocity of 100 body lengths per second

It’s been believed that whirligigs rely on a drag-based thrust system, requiring their legs to outpace their swimming speed, but a new study exposes a paradigm shift.

The findings not only reveal the secret behind whirligigs' Olympic-worthy speeds but also provide insights for designers of water robots and unmanned boats.

The team of researchers employed state-of-the-art high-speed cameras, revealing that these minuscule, one-centimeter insects achieve their astonishing speeds using a technique shared with swift marine mammals and waterfowl.

Instead, the revelation unveils a lift-based thrust mechanism, which is somewhat similar to the principles of lift used in aviation.

When whirligigs swim, they move their legs in a special way.

This movement creates a force called "lift," kind of like how an airplane's wings lift it into the sky.

But for the beatles, this lift happens underwater, and it pushes them forward.

High-speed cameras, synchronized at different angles, captured the whirligig's legs engaging in a partial propeller-like rotation, creating thrust perpendicular to the water surface.

The research suggests potential inspiration for bio-inspired robotics and unmanned boat design.

Roh believes this discovery could also contribute to the US Navy's pursuit of smaller, more flexible naval vessels.