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From the comments: "Someone pass me the crowbar please."
November 29, 2011 11:20 AM   Subscribe

Soft robotics are inspired by animals which don't have hard internal skeletons, like squid, worms, and starfish. Developed at Harvard, with funding from DARPA, this particular soft robot, "not only walks, it knows several different gaits and can deflate to stuff itself through tiny little gaps." Another design here, and another (also), and another. In addition to movement, soft robotics can also be used for grip. More information about the Harvard lab is available here (with a student describing the research here).
posted by codacorolla (26 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
AHH KILL IT
posted by The Whelk at 11:24 AM on November 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


Those are creepy enough, but the face-wiping one made me imagine an eternity of arthropod robots forever stomping on a humanineffectually wiping a robot's face.
posted by DU at 11:26 AM on November 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Everyone should stop giving Hideo Kojima new ideas.

Seriously, though, these are really cool! Thanks for sharing!
posted by dismas at 11:29 AM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Touched by His Noodly Appendage!
posted by Runes at 11:29 AM on November 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


Oh wow. I wasn't particularly impressed with the locomotion, but the gripper made my day! My husband works in automation, and that would seriously solve some issues he's been having with several machines!
posted by strixus at 11:32 AM on November 29, 2011


Combine this technology with ferrofluids, and you have... MechnoBlob!
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 11:35 AM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Teledildonics is nearly upon us!
posted by slogger at 11:41 AM on November 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Soft robotics ...

... Teledildonics is nearly upon us!


Speak for yourself.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:46 AM on November 29, 2011


I've seen enough hentai...
posted by jquinby at 11:47 AM on November 29, 2011


The face wiping video cracked me up, the way the squishy arm very tentatively and gently presses the towel into the face, while the dummy looks off in the distance, wholly unaware.

Art imitates life and life is absurd.
posted by edguardo at 11:49 AM on November 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


What? No! Robotic octopus? Isn't it bad enough that the real cephalopods surround us in the oceans, just waiting....waiting...for their opportunity? They'll get ideas from this, you know. Wouldn't surprise me if he's working for them.
posted by Salmonberry at 11:50 AM on November 29, 2011


Everyone should stop giving Hideo Kojima new ideas.

It's funny you should say this because I think of Metal Gear every time I encounter DARPA, and I wonder if you share this association and it unconsciously/consciously triggered your comment.
posted by neuromodulator at 12:08 PM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jeepers, is there some reason Whitesides hasn't gotten a Nobel yet? I swear that every damn thing he does creates a new field.
posted by tchemgrrl at 12:10 PM on November 29, 2011


They move so slowly at this point, most of those videos end up being incredibly boring...
posted by delmoi at 12:13 PM on November 29, 2011


They move so slowly at this point, most of those videos end up being incredibly boring...

I apologize that these robotic horrors are too... pedestrian for you.
posted by codacorolla at 12:25 PM on November 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


I, for one, welcome our robotic squid overlords.
posted by madajb at 12:30 PM on November 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't like where this is going one little bit. You know what? FUCK ROBOTS.
posted by pjaust at 12:39 PM on November 29, 2011


yes, these will be used for fuck robots eventually.
posted by The Whelk at 12:44 PM on November 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Imagine a fluid or gel filled with molecules, or nanostructures that are compact; but with the application of a electrical charge they expand greatly.

This would solve the problem of having to apply a pneumatic tube; you'd still have to run electrical current to the muscle, but it would be faster and easier than dealing with hydraulics or pneumatic systems.

Of course there is the inverse, as well, fibers that contract when given a mild electrical signal. Either way it would work.

Shit, someone call Mark Pauline over at SRL. You could connect the extremities of animals to life support circulation to provide glucose, oxygen and waste removal; and connect the nerves to a computer to provide control. You might have to run some electrodes to the muscles directly if the nerves are too difficult to work with, at least at first.

Now develop a structure that grows nano fibers through an organic system. Code this to grow different patterns as it encounters different tissues; provide for it to create a receiver node of some sort. Now use this on humans to restore muscular control to paralyzed patients. Or think of the military applications; infect your enemies, and if not outright control them, you could ruin their whole week with a nasty form of simulated Parkinsons.
posted by Xoebe at 1:00 PM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


you could ruin their whole week with a nasty form of simulated Parkinsons.

Waaaaaaay ahead of you.
posted by The White Hat at 1:34 PM on November 29, 2011


... I AM WIPEBOT ...
... DO YOU NEED WIPING ...
... LET ME WIPE THAT FOR YOU ...
... WHERE ARE YOU GOING ...
posted by overeducated_alligator at 1:52 PM on November 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


Do the worm.
posted by Kabanos at 1:56 PM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Um, why do we just keep on giving them more option for the future war between man and machine? Seriously, this is just bad long-term planning here.
posted by oddman at 2:12 PM on November 29, 2011


Some people seem to be trying actively to hasten the robot revolution.
posted by cmoj at 2:57 PM on November 29, 2011


Also, inflatable shaving doesn't seem to be ready for prime time yet.
posted by cmoj at 2:58 PM on November 29, 2011


In addition to slipping through gaps, the robot can make it across things like felt cloth, gravel, mud, and Jell-O (don't ask).

Well, there goes my design plans for a military fort surrounded by a Jell-O moat and walls raised an inch above the ground.
posted by picklenickle at 3:25 PM on November 29, 2011


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