Soft Robot Inspired By Starfish

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Nov. 29 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say they’ve created a soft robot inspired by animals without internal skeletons such as starfish, squid and worms.

The robot, described in a report published online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is composed of elastomeric polymers and uses five actuators, along with a pneumatic valving system that operates at low pressures, to give it motion. PNAS said a combination of crawling and undulation gaits allow the robot to navigate over and under obstacles.

“Instead of basing this and other designs on highly evolved animals as models, we are using simpler organisms for inspiration,” a team led by Harvard University chemistry professor George M. Whitesides said in the journal article, which was quoted on Nature.com.

“These organisms, ones without internal skeletons, suggest designs that are simpler to make and are less expensive than conventional hard robots, and that may, in some respects, be more capable of complex motions and functions.”

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