We would have thought of robots to be hard and unyielding, but here is an interesting “soft” robot that was inspired by squid and starfish – allowing it to crawl, undulate, and even squeeze under obstacles. A team over at Harvard University has come up with this particular robot, allowing it to gain several advantages over other kinds of robots that have treads, wheels and rigid parts. Inspired by creatures under the sea, it was specially manufactured using soft materials, where its motion is driven by compressed air.
The pneumatically-driven robot was constructed using flexible materials called “elastomers”. Within the elastomer layer, of course, lies a range of chambers which will inflate like balloons so that it can move around. Capable of adopting different patterns of movement when it moves, this means its limbs are also capable of fluid motions. An electronic Gumby, so to speak. I am quite sure that the military already has some practical use for it, we just do not know anything about it yet.
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