News Daily Spot: Octobot created, an octopus-shaped robot, flexible and low cost

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Octobot created, an octopus-shaped robot, flexible and low cost

A revolutionary new robot is not the metal and expensive machine would be expected: it is soft, cordless, battery and produced at low cost by a 3D printer.

By Seth Borenstein / Associated Press

The Octobot is like a small octopus and is designed to mimic the slippery creature to get between cracks and tight places, which makes it ideal for rescue situations.

A team of Harvard University has created about 300 of them, considering they are very cheap, and that is the opposite of the common idea of ​​robots. It is soft and flexible, not hard or rigid. It is mechanical, not electrical. It is powered by fluids. The creation was described, photographed and shown on video in the science journal Nature on Wednesday.

"It is a sort of hybrid between octopus and robot," said study author Jennifer Lewis, a professor of engineering at Harvard inspired by biology. "We've done something that nobody has."

Soft robots are important because "we have those soft and hard human mechanical objects" and when they interact, or collide - there may be problems, Lewis said. Not so with the Octobot, that fits in the palm of your hand. It is softer and adapts better, he added.

Lewis explains that for now is a "first extremely simple step". All you can do is shake a bit Octobot.

It was initially planned as a spider, but the creative team wanted the ability to swim and climb and looked more like an octopus, he said.

The idea is to do something that feeds on the chemical reaction of fluid to move the arms and directing the actions of the robot. You can create a low-cost 3D printer, and the most expensive piece is a small amount of platinum.

Other than that, it is essentially an object as rubber, Lewis said.

Robotics experts praised the new machine.

In an email, professor at Tufts University, Barry Trimmer said it was "an ingenious approach to build and control a robot completely soft."

Daniela Rus of MIT, said that this is something that the community has been waiting for soft robotics. "The robot octopus is the first autonomous robot system whose components are all soft, is a beautiful machine."

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