It's not often you see a piece of tech touted by its developer as being inspired by something "long, gray, and soft," but that's exactly how the researchers at Germany's prolific Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft Institute are describing their ISELLA robotic arms. Inspired by the finesse and power of an elephant's trunk, the team developed a unique redundant motorized "muscle" called DOHELIX, consisting of dual drive shafts intertwined around each other in a double helix, resulting in a system that can be scaled from micrometer-scale muscles to cranes in container seaports. The protoype ISELLA unit (pictured) has ten DOHELIX muscles, enough to mimic the flexibility of the human arm, but the team expects even better results when the system is ready to ship in two years -- here's hoping some enterprising carnie rigs up the next generation of elephant rides.

[Via MedGadget]

Motorola RAZR 2 V9 hits FCC in AT&T livery