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Attack of the animalbots: octopus, fish inspire new robot designs

Evan Blass
05.14.06
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Rather than a future filled with humanoid robotic overlords as envisioned by the Terminator films, the proliferation of animal-inspired robots makes it seem much more likely that we'll be doing the bidding of a veritable zoo of snakebots, insectbots, robolobsters, mulebots, and perhaps the occasional sharkbot / attack dolphin. The latest animals to have their moves cribbed by researchers are the octopus and fish, with DARPA working on a pneumatic tentacle to replace the clumsy robotic claws of old, while students and faculty at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University have invented a robotic, propeller-less propulsion system that mimics the undulating motion of fins. DARPA's invention, called the Octarm and part of the larger Biodynotics program, was developed in collaboration with scientists at the University of North Carolina, and uses a 24-volt electro-pneumatic pressure system to control a tapered, inflatable arm that can do both fairly precise work as well as heavier lifting. NTU's project, meanwhile, employs an artificial fin attached to adjustable spokes that create a wave-like motion for propelling the bot forward in a manner very similar to a stingray's movements. Movies of both new members of the growing animalbot army, whose purposes are mostly military in nature, are available by following the "Read" links below...

Read- Octarm [Via Engadget Japanese]
Read- Fishbot [Via Yahoo! Asia]

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