Boffins come up with octobot

2016_rt_mw_octobot_001A team of Harvard boffins has invented the world’s first soft bodied robot which is modelled on an octopus.

Apparently designers have a lot to learn from cephalopods. They can squeeze themselves into and around nearly any obstacle.

The team built a robot with an exterior made of silicone. It uses a small reservoir of hydrogen peroxide as fuel and when it washes over flecks of platinum embedded within the octobot, the resulting chemical reaction produces gas that inflates and flexes the robot’s arms.

According to Nature magazine, the gas flows through a series of 3D-printed pneumatic chambers that link the octobot’s eight arms and by flexing it is propelled through water.

At the moment the weak point is the fuel which lasts between four and eight minutes. It also has no sense of direction. The researchers are now working to add sensors to the robot, which would allow it to detect objects in its environment and navigate toward or away from them.

The scientists envision these robots being used for marine search and rescue, oceanic temperature sensing, and military surveillance.