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Underwater robot has sense of touch, class and style

Laura June

At the Fraunhofer Institute in Bremen, Germany, a group of researchers, in conjunction with the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence DFKI, is developing an underwater robot with a sense of touch. The octopus-esque robot is equipped with a strain gauge which triggers electrical resistance changes when an obstacle is encountered. The strain gauges -- which are printed onto the robot -- which are ten micrometers wide (about half the width of a human hair), are made up of atomized nanoparticles, and are extremely sensitive. The researchers intend for the robot to be able to distinguish between actual obstacles and water currents. The robot's first stop will be a public trade show at the end of May in Nuremberg, after which it will presumably make it's way to the dark depths of the sea to meet up with Captain Nemo and the giant squid.

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