Feeds

Octopuses inspire next-generation robots

Flexible

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

Researchers at the University of California have started work on a new kind of robot that will be able to walk without a rigid skeleton. This so-called soft robot would be able to go places its more rigid counterparts cannot, squeezing into small spaces that would otherwise be inaccessible.

The researchers hope that once completed, the robots will be useful to search and rescue teams in the aftermath of earthquakes, car accidents or during fires.

Robert Full, professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley said: "The wonderful thing about soft robotics is that it's infinitely adaptable, unlike the few degrees of freedom of rigid robots."

The team was inspired by the discovery that two species of octopus can effectively walk along the sea floor using two of their arms, almost like a tank moves along tracks, according to the BBC World Service's Science in Action programme. Every other example of bipedal locomotion involves the support of a rigid skeleton, but the octopuses move along supported purely by the strength of their muscles (and the sea, obviously).

The researchers think the walking technique has evolved to allow the octopuses to back away from a predator while maintaining their camouflage.

The octopuses walk along by forming functional feet with their arms. The animals roll backwards along the suckers on one flattened arm, before switching to the other arm and repeating the process. Take a peak at a clip of an octopus in motion here.

To mimic this process, the research team has built a prototype section of a robotic arm, effectively an artificial muscle. The "muscle" is really a tube with a spring inside, the BBC explains. It can bend in all directions, can be compressed and stretched.

By linking many of these tubes together, the researchers think they could create an artificial octopus arm, paving the way for robots that move in a whole new way. ®

Bootnote

Regular Register readers will no doubt see through this latest thinly veiled attempt by the Lizard army to subjugate the human race. Constant vigilance is the only possible response to the terrifying Rise of The Machines™.

Related stories

Inside Sun Labs - the best and the 'bots
Labour MP backs Captain Cyborg shocker
Battling teen crushes roboarm menace

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.