A Robotic Octopus Would Surely Be Captain Nemo's Worst Nightmare

When designing robots it only makes sense to occasionally take a peek at what Mother Nature has already come up with for surviving and navigating our planet. But do robotics researchers have to keep choosing the world's most creepiest animals for inspiration? Does anyone really want to live in a world with unstoppable robot snakes or artificial octopi lurking in our oceans?

That hasn't stopped researchers from the Institute of Computer Science, Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas in Heraklion, Greece from finding a way to perfectly mimic the graceful way an Octopus uses its tentacles to move through the water.


The latest version of this creation now has flexible silicone webbing between its artificial tentacles that helps propel the creation at speeds of up to 0.04 miles per hour. Not exactly lightning fast just yet, but the research could help lead to revolutionary new ways to propel boats or submarines, particularly if they allow those crafts to move through the water as stealthily as an octopus or squid does—even if they're not lurking 20,000 leagues under the sea. [2014 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems via Science News via Damn Geeky]

Illustration for article titled A Robotic Octopus Would Surely Be Captain Nemo's Worst Nightmare



I was hoping the motion would be more fluid. It flexes when it shoots forward but when it spreads out the tentacles again it has to do it slowly or it acts like a parachute. I bet something like the undulating flappies on a cuddle fish would be more efficient and allow for faster speeds. Other than me knit-picking, it's neat.