Of all the sea creatures, the octopus is probably the coolest, because they move pretty fast for invertebrates. It’s inevitable that some people would want to build robots out of them.
The Octopus Integrating Project, which comes to us courtesy of Technabob, is a collaboration by several universities in Europe and Israel to build a soft-bodied robot inspired by the octopus. The universities participating in the project include Hebrew University in Jerusalem; the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel; the University of Zurich; the Italian Institute of Science in Genova; the University of Reading in England and the Foundation for Research and Technologies (FORTH) on Crete, Greece.
The project’s goal is “investigating and understanding the principles that give rise to the octopus sensory-motor capabilities and incorporating them in new design approaches.” If they can build a robot that works the way a real octopus does, then they can not only build better robots but get some more information on how real octopi actually move around in the oceans.
“The animal-like robots offer the possibility from one side to take inspiration from nature to build up new advanced technologies, which operate with better performance in difficult or normally impracticable and unstructured environments,” they said on the project’s website.
They’ve already built a working octopus robot, that uses tentacles made of out of a soft shape-memory allow that changes shape when heated in the two main tentacles. The other six use silicone with a steel cables inside it.
They’ve released a video of their robot moving around in a pool:
And here’s another one of the robotic octopus arm moving freely in the water:
The eventual goal is to build an octopus robot that can sense things in its environment and react to them.
If you’re into land-based robots, you might want to check out a post on “RoboCops” patrolling South Korean prisons. If you’re looking for a robot that can help you instead of possibly strangling you underwater, here’s a post on one that pours beer for you.