Feeds

Virtually indestructible robostarfish penetrates tiny cracks

Wriggling flexi-bot created by Harvard boffins

Security for virtualized datacentres

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
'Utter killjoy Reg hacks have NEVER BEEN LAID', writes a fan
'Shuddit, smarty pants!' Some readers reacted badly to our last Doctor Who review ...
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical 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?
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.