A consortium of European researchers are designing a robotic octopus body and brain they say will be the first entirely soft robot. The robotic octopus will be able to propel itself through water, elongate its arms, and use them to reach and grasp items. A prototype can now manipulate its flexible tentacles to shoot itself through water in a movement known as sculling, as well as grasp objects and move via gaits not possible for the real animal. (Source: OCTOPUS Project)
That's a very cool, robot, Ann. Given that it looks so much like a real octopus, it makes you wonder if it looks that way to mimic the looks of an octopus or whether there are efficiency reasons for the resemblance.
Ann, The slides are quite impressive. I can see these robotic octopi helping in underwater explorations or search and rescue operations because of their small size, flexibility, and agility. Adding a small camera will definitely provide a plus to the robotics attributes mentioned. Very nice article Ann!
Rob, I agree. Biomimicry is definitely an becoming a Disruptive Technology in the robotics arena. The UAV robots used by the Army and Oceanographers will definitely be interested in this new form of robotics technology. These soft robots can explore the ocean depths without disturbing the undersea environment. Just imagine the amount of ocean data that can be obtain using a swarm of robotic octopi, the mysteries to be uncover is mind-blogging.
There are two other robotic jellyfish we've written about: one from Virginia Tech that incorporates soft materials, although with a hard structure http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=262067 and one from Harvard/Caltech that incorporates engineered tissue and silicone, which is a soft robot:
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