The elephant’s trunk can move air 50 times faster than a human sneeze
Can flush 3 liters of water in one second, like 20 toilet tanks at a time
The elephant trunk It is a kind of Swiss army knife. It has endless utilities for them. And a good part of those uses are due to the versatility that they demonstrate when handling the air.
Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, in the United States, have shown how the trunks of African elephants are adapted to hold up to nine liters of water, how they can absorb three liters of water in a single second, a speed that is 50 times that of a human sneeze.
Understanding the physics behind the uses of the elephant’s trunk to manipulate air, liquids, solid food, and various objects can aid in creating more efficient robots in the future, thanks to the use of air movement to move and manipulate objects.
Elephants, for example, are the only animals capable of using suction both on land and underwater. “An elephant eats 180 kilos of food a day, but little is known about how it uses its trunk to catch food and water for 18 hours each day,” explains lead study author Andrew Schulz. “Their trunks seem to work like suitcases, capable of expanding when necessary ”, he points out.
Schulz has studied elephants at the Atlanta Zoo in Georgia. He has observed how, depending on the characteristics of the food and the pieces into which the food ration is divided, he first groups them together and then sucks them, and then puts them in his mouth. When they gave the animals nachos, a very brittle food, and the elephants sucked them with precision without breaking them.
“An elephant uses its trunk like a Swiss army knife,” says David Hu, a professor of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech. These animals are capable of sucking with great precision, but also great power, up to 3.7 liters in 1.5 seconds, which means 20 cisterns of a toilet almost simultaneously. The musculature of the tube allows the fossae to dilate to increase the volume that is capable of holding up to 64%.
All these characteristics have applications for the creation of robots. “We can apply physical mechanisms to find new ways to build robots,” says Schultz.