218: Professor David Hu | Animal/Robotic Movement, Fluid Mechanics, And More In “How to Walk on Water and Climb up Walls”

The way that organisms move is a precursor to how robots will map their movements out. Animals can do things like walk on water and climb up vertical surfaces, and knowing how this works is useful. Professor David Hu of Georgia Tech explores these topics in his book How to Walk on Water and Climb up Walls.

Professor Hu is Associate Professor of Fluid Mechanics at The George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech. He runs the Hu Laboratory for Locomotion at his institution. He got his Bachelors and Masters, along with his PhD in Mathematics, at MIT. Most of his research focuses on hydrodynamics and elasticity problems as they relate to biology.

Show notes:

  • what biolocomotion is involved with, and how evolution has impacted animals and the insect world in terms of movement
  • why looking at nature is a good way to get ideas for mechanical devices that are more effective or better maintaining
  • where Professor Hu looked for inspiration, or bioinspiration, to see what the next item of research would be
  • how insects or animals can walk on water based on surface tension
  • what kinds of analysis it requires to be able to take a guess regarding locomotion and test it out in terms of basis
  • how body movements and material properties have to be looked at as a pair to be able to decipher their value
  • what kinds of animals need to undulate or slither to be able to get the most efficiency for their movement
  • how some of these advances connect to upcoming robots that are able to touch and move things in a more gentle way than current robots

I was glad to have Professor Hu on the show. He is a personable individual with a good sense of humor. You can check out his book on Amazon, look at his research articles, or look at his lab page.