Journal of Bionic Engineering

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 516–525 | Cite as

Propulsion Principles of Water Striders in Sculling Forward through Shadow Method

  • Hongyu Lu
  • Yelong Zheng
  • Wei Yin
  • Dashuai Tao
  • Noshir Pesika
  • Yonggang Meng
  • Yu TianEmail author


Semi-aquatic arthropods skate on water surfaces with synergetic actions of their legs. The sculling forward locomotion of water striders was observed and analyzed in situ to understand and reproduce the abovementioned feature. The bright–edged elliptical shadows of the six legs of a water strider were recorded to derive the supporting force distributions on legs. The propulsion principles of water striders were quantitatively disclosed. A typical sculling forward process was accomplished within approximately 0.15 s. Water striders lifted their heads slightly and supported their weight mainly by the two driving legs to increase the propulsion force and reduce the water resistance during the process. The normalized thrust–area ratio (defined as the ratio of the propulsion force to the projected area) was usually lower than 0.4 after sculling for approximately 0.08 s. The entire normal supporting force remained nearly constant during a stroke to reduce the mass center fluctuation in the normal direction. In addition, water striders could easily control the locomotion direction and speed through the light swinging of the two hind legs as rudders. These sculling principles might inspire sophisticated biomimetic water-walking robots with high propulsion efficiency in the future.


shadow method water strider sculling forward locomotion propulsion principle 


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This work is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51425502).


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Copyright information

© Jilin University 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hongyu Lu
    • 1
  • Yelong Zheng
    • 2
  • Wei Yin
    • 3
  • Dashuai Tao
    • 1
  • Noshir Pesika
    • 4
  • Yonggang Meng
    • 1
  • Yu Tian
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of TribologyTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Precision Measuring Technology and InstrumentTianjin UniversityTianjinChina
  3. 3.Lubrication and Friction Testing Center, Tianjin Research Institute for Advanced EquipmentTsinghua UniversityTianjinChina
  4. 4.Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering DepartmentTulane UniversityNew OrleansUSA

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