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Wednesday 31 May 2023 Dublin: 12°C
NPG Press/YouTube
# softly does it
This tiny robot octopus is powered by its own gas
The robot is the first of its kind and could lead to future soft robots that could perform tasks traditional robots can’t access.

ENGINEERS IN THE US have built the first ever robot that is completely soft.

Taking the form of an octopus as it has an entirely soft body with no bones, it was created using a combination of 3D printing, an octopus-shaped mold and soft lithography (the process of printing from a flat surface).

The team from Harvard University managed to power the robot using a chemical reaction of hydrogen peroxide that turns into gas when it comes into contact with platinum particles in it.

Instead of being able to walk, it can only move its legs up and down slowly. The gas inflates the legs by travelling through tiny channels running through the body and helps them move. The robot also has tiny openings in its body so it can let out gas.

The robot has no rigid components, meaning it would feel organic if you touched it.

octopus gif NPG Press / YouTube NPG Press / YouTube / YouTube

One of the researchers, PhD student Ryan Truby, told BBC News it took many years to perfect the design and many more months to fine-tune it.

“It was back, I guess last October, there was this one day when it just started working… Several iterations later, we kept fine-tuning, and at one point we could just take these things out of the oven, fill them up with fuel and they’d start moving.”

The hope is that this robot will serve as the starting point for future soft, autonomous robots. The idea would be that such robots would be able to use their softness and flexibility to perform tasks that traditional robots or humans can’t reach.

NPG Press / YouTube

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