$13 Million Underwater Rescue Project
Scientists in Italy are embarking on a 13 million dollar science project to create a robotic Octopus tentacle that can squeeze into tight spots and operate to free people trapped underwater. This tentacle is hoped to be developed into a full bodied robot that can easily free people and be operated in ways that other human divers can’t. It is slated to be finished by the end of this year. What is special about this robot is the flexibility that the tentacle allows, while also having enough power to be able to shift heavy materials to free trapped people.
‘We designed this special braid which provides this flexibility but also the possibility to elongate the arm and shorten it. It has suckers that are very important in the animal for grasping……So we put our artificial tactile sensors under the suckers so that the robot can perceive contact when grasping objects,” says Professor Cecilia Laschi, who heads the team.
The waterproof arm is made from silicone wrapped around a steel cable. The finished project is hoped to be a fully functional eight-armed robot at the end of this year. I think that this is a great project and I’m glad that scientists are starting to model the future of technology after animals that already have some of these capabilities. I think that the animals here on Earth have a lot that we as humans can learn from and incorporate into our daily lives and technological advances, such as these robotic maneuvers modeled after Octopus arms. Observing animals is a great idea to gain inspiration and insight into how we can advance our lives too.