Octopi are known for their ability to squeeze down into tight, rocky crevasses, where they hide or wait to ambush. Researchers working at the BioRobotics Institute in Italy are working to mimic that ability in robots.
The multiarmed robot, PoseiDrone — named for the sea god Poseidon — is one of the most flexible machines out there. Nearly 90 of the body is comprised of soft materials, giving it the ability to explore small spaces, repair underwater equipment and even wrap its arms around a human body. Maybe not so much for loving, but for rescuing.
Francesco Giorgio-Serchi and his colleagues are employing 3-D printing technology to advance the field of soft robotics. With the printer, they’re able to design, experiment and modify quickly. The goal is to develop a robot not only with a octopus’ infinite range of motion and flexibility, but one that also mimics the animal’s unique nervous system. Even though these animals have a central brain, the advanced nervous system in each tentacle acts like a “brain” to control movement.
For propulsion, the PoseiDrone can propel itself by expelling water from its body.
Although still in the research phase, this robot and other soft-bodied machines — as well as flexible electronics to power them — are being investigated by scientists.
“Without the soft part,” Giorgio-Serchi told the New York Times, “it would just be a pile of motors and cables.”
Credit: BioRobotics Institute