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Robot Octopus Takes to the Sea


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The robotic octopus swimming.

Researchers have nearly doubled the swimming speed of a robotic octopus by adding a web between its tentacles.

Credit: FORTH

Last year, Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas researchers developed a robotic octopus that can swim through water. However, the robot did not have a web between the tentacles, which the researchers hypothesized helps swimming speed and efficiency. Now the researchers have added a soft and supple silicone web that has nearly doubled the speed of the roboctopus.

The researchers also taught the robot to crawl, carry objects, and swim free in the Aegean Sea.

Without the web, the roboctopus was able to swim at just over 100 millimeters per second, but with the web it was able to swim at up to 180 mm per second. In addition, the overall cost of transport (CoT), a measure of the robot's efficiency, is 0.85 for the arms-only version of the robot, but the web-equipped robot's CoT is 0.62.

During testing, the researchers also noted little fish following the robot octopus while it swam, which they say may make it a good platform to unobtrusively observe marine life.

From IEEE Spectrum
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