Feeds

Virtually indestructible robostarfish penetrates tiny cracks

Wriggling flexi-bot created by Harvard boffins

Build a business case: developing custom apps

A squishy robot based on a starfish has pushed the frontiers of robotic movement by proving bots can wriggle.

Built out of elastomers and powered by pneumatics, the soft robot successfully squeezed itself through a 2cm gap in a test by the Harvard engineers who created it.

The boffins have cunningly worked air chambers into the robot's soft skin which inflate like balloons to power the plastic muscles: the legs curl and expand to inch the air-filled pseudo-sea-creature along.

Starfish robo, credit PNAS

The starfish-inspired robot wriggles under a sheet of glass

The soft parts of the robot allow it to wriggle in a way that rigid structures can't, but the basic mechanism is simple. The engineers revealed in a published article how simple actuators - the engines of the device - work together to produce the complex movements:

It uses no sensors, only five actuators, and a simple pneumatic valving system that operates at low pressures (< 10 psi). A combination of crawling and undulation gaits allowed this robot to navigate a difficult obstacle.

Another advantage of squishy bots over rigid or metallic ones is that they are less prone to breaking and are more resistant to damage from falls, though their soft-walled air chambers face a greater risk of punctures.

The paper Multigait soft robot, contributed by George M. Whitesides, is published in the journal PNAS. ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.