In honor of Bobby V becoming the new manager of the Boston Red Sox, it is only appropriate to profile the latest robotic invention from those dudes at Cambridge. Remember the squids from the Matrix attacking Zion, look no further as science fiction is now reality with the latest breakthrough from Harvard University.
The mad scientists of “Beantown” have been cooking up the latest curse on the Bambino with a mix of organic chemistry, soft materials science, and robotics to give birth to a new soft robot that slinks around like like a squid. The new sponge like robot worm has no internal skeleton or sensors. It moves, rather slithers, by harnessing “a network of valves and tubes that guide air into and out of four elastomer leg compartments called ‘pneu-nets’ and a body section.” This robotic breakthrough can crawl around obstacles and pass through tiny gaps by using a variety of gaits.
According to the research team led by George M. Whitesides, the advantage of this type of robot is both its cost effective nature and its ability to implement “complex motion” through simple articulation. Earlier attempts by Whitesides include a star-fish “elastic polymers that inflate like balloons for actuation.” The Starfish was amazingly able to “perform delicate tasks such as picking up eggs.”
It will be a while before these science experiments turn into reality, in the meantime this novel approach offers us the ability to celebrate life imitating art.