Soft octopus robot can squeeze into difficult places

Soft octopus robot can squeeze into difficult places

(Source: Harvard University, R. Truby & M. Wehner)
(Source: Harvard University, R. Truby & M. Wehner)

Squishy soft robots can wiggle or squeeze into difficult places, do surgery, biopsies or just take a look around & see what is happening.


Soft octopus robot can squeeze into difficult places 

The word "robot" usually means a metal humanoid-like thing.

More recently, in movies like Ex Machina (2015) or Automata (2014) robots are starting to look and behave more like humans, with soft skin and voices tinged with emotion

Now, in the latest robot development, some robots are getting extremely soft, squishy even. 


Soft robots are built from soft and flexible parts or components so that they can move in restricted spaces.

Soft robots are bio- inspired robots inspired by animals with soft and flexible body parts such as the octopus with its soft and flexible tentacles and also the starfish.


A flexible endoscope used to view what is happening inside the body & doing surgery without cutting body open (non-invasive surgery) (Source: Wikipedia)

We've all seen endoscopes, the long fiber optic probes that surgeons insert into narrow spaces in the body such as the esophagus to see what is happening in our bodies.

Soft endoscopes with octopus-like tentacles might well be the next frontier in endoscopes.

Most robots are rigid and have trouble going anywhere but the factory floor where they assemble things.

The first-ever octopus robot has no rigid parts and is made completely from silicone gels with different degrees of softness or stiffness.

The octopus legs are powered by chemicals, not mechanically powered, set in motion by pushing gas through chambers in the legs.

To be more exact, hydrogen peroxide washes over tiny pieces of platinum which results in a chemical reaction that produces a gas.

The gas flows through the chambers in the octopus tentacles or arms, inflating and moving them.  
The moving tentacles propel or move the octopus through the water (for more details read here & here).


The octopus robot is completely self-contained and autonomous without external controller or power source, without the wires, cables or batteries that one would normally expect in a device

At Harvard University's Wyss Institute for Bioinspired Engineering, the body of the tiny 10 centimeter "octobot" is first made in a mould (read the technical paper here).

The fuel store is 3D-printed onto the body with the network of tiny pipes and valves and inflatable bladders which set the tentacles in motion, all of which is used to control the octobot.

The octobot does not have an electrical circuit board but rather a board made of tiny pipes that   sequences of tentacle movements are pre- programmed into.

As the BBC describes it, "at its heart is a 'fluidic logic circuit' where valves act as logic gates, allowing gas to flow and inflate compartments inside the eight separate limbs. The gas is pumped into that circuit by a little fuel cell filled with hydrogen peroxide, which reacts with particles of platinum left in the system by the printing process" (see here).


The strange thing is that the octopus itself really does not move or get power in this way.

Engineers have only used the octopus to create something that is entirely new, a new kind of robot that has no hard skeleton and is capable of a huge variety of different movements. 

Probably most importantly, soft robots interact better with humans, with their soft skin and fragile bodies, and thus have great potential for future applications.

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  • application (noun): using something to do something - การใช้, การประยุกต์ใช้
  • assemble: to make something by joining separate parts - ประกอบ
  • autonomous (adj): able to do things and make decisions without help from anyone else - ซึ่งอยู่ได้ด้วยตนเอง, ซึ่งพึ่งตนเองได้
  • battery (noun): a device that is placed inside a car engine, clock, radio, etc. and that produces the electricity that makes it work - แบตเตอรี่, ที่กำเนิดไฟฟ้า
  • behave: to do things in a particular way - ประพฤติตัว
  • bio-: related to living things and biology -
  • bladder: the part of the body that stores urine (slang: piss) before the body gets rid of it (slang: take a piss) -
  • cable: thick strong metal rope used on ships, for supporting bridges, etc. - สายเคเบิ้ล, เชือกหรือเหล็กเส้นขนาดใหญ่
  • chamber: a space in something (in a body, in a plant, a machine, etc, which is separated from the rest - ช่อง
  • chemical reaction: a process in which a chemical change happens - ปฏิกิริยาเคมี
  • circuit board: a board with small electrical components such as transistors and resistors on it -
  • completely (adv): totally, in every way possible - อย่างทั้งหมด
  • component: a part which combines with other parts to form something bigger - ส่วนประกอบ,ส่วนเสริม
  • controller: something that exercises restraining or governing influence over; to check; to counteract; to restrain; to regulate; to govern; to overpower - จัดการ, ควบคุม
  • degree: an amount of something - ระดับ
  • development: a new event or stage that is likely to affect what happens in a continuing situation - ความคืบหน้า
  • device (noun): a machine or piece of equipment that does a particular job - อุปกรณ์ เครื่องมือ เครื่องจักร
  • emotion: strong feeling such as anger or love, or strong feelings in general - อารมณ์
  • engineering (noun): the activity of applying scientific knowledge to the design, building and control of machines, roads, bridges, electrical equipment, etc - วิศวกรรมศาสตร์
  • exact (adj.): done, made, or described in a very thorough way, with all the details correct - ถูกต้องแม่นยำ
  • expect (verb): to think or believe that something will happen or that somebody will do something - คาด, คาดว่า, คาดการณ์
  • external (adj): outside; of the outside part of something - ภายนอก
  • extremely: very; to a very high degree - อย่างมาก, อย่างยิ่ง
  • factory: a building or group of buildings where goods are made - โรงงาน
  • flexible: able to bend easily without breaking - ที่ดัดงอได้โดยไม่แตกหัก
  • flow: the continuous movement of a liquid in one direction - การไหล
  • fragile: easy to break or damage - ที่เปราะบาง ที่หักง่าย
  • frontier: a new area yet to be explored, of technology for example -
  • fuel: any material that produces heat or power, usually when it is burnt - เชื้อเพลิง
  • humanoid (noun): a machine or creature that looks and behaves like a human - เครื่องที่มีลักษณะของมนุษย์
  • inflatable (adj): able to be filled with air, especially to be able to float in the air or water - ซึ่งทำให้พองได้
  • inflate: to cause to increase in size by filling with air - ตุ่ย, ยุ้ย, พอง
  • inspired (adj): having excellent qualities or abilities; produced with the help of inspiration - ยอดเยี่ยม, ฉลาด, หลักแหลม
  • institute (noun): an organization that has a particular purpose, especially one that is connected with education or a particular profession; the building used by this organisation - สถาบัน,องค์การ,วิทยาลัย,สถาบันหนึ่งของมหาวิทยาลัย
  • interact: communicate with or react to - มีปฏิกิริยากับ
  • latest (adj): newest; most recent - ] ล่าสุด, See also: ทันสมัยที่สุด, เกิดหลังสุด
  • mechanically: done with machinery or equipment that makes something operate, such as an engine -
  • metal: a type of solid mineral substance that is usually hard and shiny and that heat and electricity can travel through, for example tin, iron and gold - โลหะ
  • motion: movement - การเคลื่อนไหว
  • mould: a container that you pour a liquid or soft substance into, which then becomes solid in the same shape as the container, for example when it is cooled or cooked - แม่พิมพ์
  • network: a large system of connected parts, organisations, people, etc. - เครือข่าย
  • normally: usually; in normal circumstances - โดยปกติ, ตามปกติ
  • octopus: a sea animal with a soft round body and eight long arms called tentacles - ปลาหมึกยักษ์
  • perform (verb): to do what is required - ปฏิบัติหน้าที่
  • pipe (noun): a long tube used for carrying water, oil, gas, etc. from one place to another place - ท่อ
  • position (noun): the place where somebody/something is located - ตำแหน่ง, สถานที่
  • potential: qualities that exist and can be developed - ศักยภาพที่จะพัฒนาได้
  • power: physical force that does work - พลัง, กำลัง, แรง
  • power: energy, from electricity or the human body, for example - พลังงาน, พลังงานกล,พลัง, กำลัง, แรง
  • pre-: before -
  • propel: to move or push someone or something forward - ขับเคลื่อน, ขับดัน
  • recently (adverb): not long ago - เมื่อไม่นานมานี้, เมื่อเร็วๆ นี้
  • restricted: limited - ถูกจำกัด,ถูกจำกัดวง
  • result in: cause to happen -
  • rigid: not able to be changed, bent, moved, or persuaded; stiff or fixed - ความแข็งแกร่ง, ตายตัว
  • robot: a machine that can perform a complicated series of tasks automatically; a machine that is made to look like a human and that can do some things that a human can do - หุ่นยนต์, มนุษย์หุ่นยนต์
  • self-contained: everything it needs is inside it -
  • sequence: a set of related things that happen or are arranged in a particular order - การเรียงลำดับ
  • set in motion: to begin something; to start a process - เริ่ม, เริ่มต้น
  • silicone: a substance formed by a chemical process from silicon and other substances, used for making many different things - ยางซิลิโคน
  • skin: the outside covering of the body - ผิวหนัง
  • softness: the state or condition of being soft, not hard, with shape easily changed -
  • space: an area or a place that is empty or that can be moved about freely - ที่ว่าง
  • squeeze: to put pressure on someone as if pressing them from all sides - คั้น, บีบ
  • squishy: when something wet and soft -
  • stiffness: not being easily bent or moved; firm or hard - แข็ง,แข็งทื่อ
  • store: to put and keep things in a special place for use in the future - เก็บ
  • surgery: medical treatment in which a doctor cuts open someone’s body - การผ่าตัด
  • tentacle (noun): a long thin part of the body of some creatures, such as squid, used for feeling or holding things, for moving or for getting food - อวัยวะของสัตว์ที่ยื่นยาวออกมา เช่น งวง หนวด
  • tinge: to add a small amount of something - ผสมลงไปเล็กน้อย
  • tiny: very small -
  • valve (noun): the part of a machine or equipment that opens and closes to control the flow of liquid or gas - ลิ้นปิดเปิด (เครื่องยนต์, เครื่องดนตรีใช้เป่า, หัวใจ, หลอดเลือด)
  • voice (noun): the sounds that a person makes when they speak or sing - เสียงพูด, เสียงที่เปล่งจากปาก, เสียงร้องเพลง
  • wash: when water or liquid moves over or through a place -
  • wiggle: to move from side to side or up and down in short quick movements; to make something move in this way - กระดิก, เลื้อย
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