Robotic tentacles gentle enough to pick up flowers

The world of robotics has certainly advanced by leaps and bounds over the years, and the latest developments seem to point towards a more malleable form such as the Meshworm from MIT and a robotic worm that seeks out survivors in the event of an earthquake. Today’s digitized creepy crawlie comes in the form of a robotic tentacle that is gentle enough to pick up flowers, although I would like to see a humongous robotic Kraken being unleashed in the seven seas to terrorize pirates instead. Back to reality, George Whitesides and his colleagues at Harvard University managed to come up with a range of “soft” robots that have a far more gentle touch, and this tentacled wonder can twist around a flower without damaging it.

Material for the tentacle would comprise of flexible plastic that hold a trio of air channels which will run along the entire limb. The selective pumping of air into these channels will enable the tentacles to bend, curling around objects with the lightest of grips, although it would be cooler if suction cups like those of an octopus or squid could be incorporated as well.

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