To help research underwater flora and fauna without harming corals and marine habitats, a team of engineers from the University of California, San Diego has developed a new robot octopus. It is mainly based on soft materials, like the same acrylic polymer. At the same time, some parts of its structure are rigid and have been manufactured using 3D printing technology.
The researchers spotted the mechanism of underwater movement of living octopuses and adapted it in their robot. The compact machine uses water and elastic energy to move. First, the octopus robot contracts, drawing a small amount of water into its soft body, and then abruptly expands, releasing the collected water using elastic energy. The water nozzle can change its angle, so the robot can swim in almost any direction.
“We have essentially recreated all the key features that octopuses use to move quickly underwater.”– commented Michael Tolley, professor in the Department of Mechanics and Aerospace Engineering and lead author of the development.
According to the developer, this is the first autonomous underwater robot capable of producing reactive impulses using water, which allows it to move like an octopus. In this case, the machine creates impulses directly with the help of its elastic body, which generally increases its efficiency.
Experts also note that the maximum movement speed of the compact octopus robot is about 800 meters per hour. This figure is much higher than the capabilities that most other soft robots demonstrate for a similar field of use. The octopus robot also has a waterproof compartment in which you can install a camera or some kind of research sensor for collecting scientific information.
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