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Robotic Octopus Creeps into Our Lives

by Conner Flynn
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The octopus is capable of some incredible movements because they have large brains, fine motor control, and almost no bones to hinder them. So it makes sense that researchers would want a robo-octopus to study. That’s what the Octopus Project is about – a bunch of oversized kids playing in the bathtub with their new toy.

It’s a European project intent on “investigating and understanding the principles that give rise to the octopus sensory-motor capabilities and incorporating them in new design approaches,” so this roboctopus with eight soft tentacles will help them learn all of the finer details.

The big tentacles in front of the cephalopod are actuated by a shape-memory alloy that changes length when heated, without the aid of servos or anything else. The other six arms are silicone with a steel cable inside. The cable is attached to a series of other nylon cables. By manipulating those nylon cables, the tentacle can wiggle and even grip things. Hopefully not human throats.

The seas of the future are looking like a dangerous place. I raise a toast to our new robo-tentacled overlords and laugh at them since I am sticking to solid ground. Let them eat the sailors.

[via IEEE Spectrum]



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