Feeds

Virtually indestructible robostarfish penetrates tiny cracks

Wriggling flexi-bot created by Harvard boffins

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

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. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
FORGET the CLIMATE: FATTIES are a MUCH BIGGER problem - study
Fat guy? Drink or smoke? You're worse than a TERRORIST
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rockin' boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
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
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.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
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?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.