Photo by Nicole De Khors from Burst
Investigating components of the natural world can lead to solutions for everyday problems. This process of emulating nature in order to find innovative solutions for complex design challenges is called biomimicry.
Biomimicry is a very useful concept in robotics. For example, the octopus is a highly intelligent creature that uses its body in unique ways. This model has inspired researchers to develop a soft-body robot made of silicone capable of climbing.
The robot, reported at the IEEE Conference on Intelligent Systems in August, was constructed with two flexible arms. Each arm was made of silicone and had a grasping part and a lifting part. The grasping part resembled the spiral curve of an octopus tentacle. The lifting part contained a string that, when pulled, enabled the robot to climb. The researchers placed the robot on a ladder and a bumpy wall to demonstrate that it could grasp bars and complete vertical climbing tasks. They also found that the robot was able to grasp a variety of objects with its flexible silicone arms.
And this group from Hosei University in Tokyo isn't the only one drawing on the octopus for robot inspiration. Other researchers have considered the cephalopod when designing machines for years, including a "Tentacle Bot" reported earlier this year.
As a next step, the researchers want to further develop the robot’s artificial intelligence. This is a noteworthy example of how biomimicry can help inform the future of science and technology.