Feeds

Virtually indestructible robostarfish penetrates tiny cracks

Wriggling flexi-bot created by Harvard boffins

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
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?