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Bioinspir Biomim. 2013 Sep;8(3):036004. doi: 10.1088/1748-3182/8/3/036004. Epub 2013 Jul 10.

Why are there no long distance jumpers among click-beetles (Elateridae)?

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Technion Autonomous Systems Program and the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, Technion, Haifa 32000, Israel.


Click-beetles jump from an inverted position without using their legs. This unique mechanism results in high vertical jumps with the jump angle restricted by the rigid morphology of the exoskeleton. We explored the option to exploit this jumping mechanism for application to small mechanical devices having to extricate themselves from rough terrain. We combined experiments on a biomimetic jumping device with a physical-mathematical model of the jump to assess the effect of morphological variation on the jumping performance. We found that through morphological change of two non-dimensional (size independent) parameters, the propulsive force powering the jump can be directed at angles as small as 40°. However, in practice jumping at such angles is precluded by loss of traction with the ground during the push-off phase. This limitation to steep jump angles is inherent to the jumping mechanism which is based on rotation of body parts about a single hinge. Such a rotation dictates a curvilinear trajectory for the center of mass during takeoff so that the vertical and horizontal accelerations occur out of phase, implying loss of traction with the ground before substantial horizontal acceleration can be reached. Thus click-beetle inspired jumping is effective mainly for making steep-angle righting jumps.

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