The Future Is Here
We may earn a commission from links on this page

Holy crap, these bionic arms look just like Doc Ock's

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Designed by German engineering firm Festo, these claw-tipped, artificially intelligent arms were designed to mimic the utility and movement of an elephant's trunk – but the resemblance to Dock Ock's writhing limbs is just uncanny.

Festo, the same firm that brought us the mechanical seagull, calls the bionic elephant trunks "Dynamic Handling Assistants." (How benign-sounding!) Geekosystem's Sam Maggs has more details:

Described by one observer as "strangely alive" and similar to a "giant alien maggot," the trunk/Doc Ock arms were created with 3D-printed segments and connected by pneumatic artifical muscles... it also has artificial intelligence and muscle memory! It's programmed to learn in much the same way a human baby does – through a process of trial and error. Called "goal babbling," the robot trunk can attempt to grab something; remember what went wrong; make tiny adjustments in its own positioning and muscle behaviour; and then try the grab again, until it finally gets it right.

Cripes. That'll get your imagination running wild. Can you envision a set of these things mounted to the back of one of DARPA's brick-heaving Big Dogs? Or, scarier still, one of its Cheetahs? Just think of it: the fastest robotic quadruped ever built, its sinewy pneumatic limbs swaying hungrily, claws snapping cleverly above its head, bounding mechanically toward you at speeds approaching 30 miles per hour.


That's one vision of the robo-future, anyway. Another involves an automaton army with synthetic butt-cheeks that respond to slaps, caresses, tickles and pokes. I'm honestly not sure which is more frightening.

More details at Geekosystem and New Scientist.