A team of scientists announced that they created a new, soft, vine-like and growing robot. This snake-like creation is capable of twisting and extending, and its capacities could be more useful than believed.
The research team was inspired, for its creation, by organisms that cover longer distances by growing. For example, they drew inspiration from vines or nerve cells. The resulting tentacular prototype could come to represent a new type of soft robotics. One that will also be capable of moving in ways that others can’t even dream of.
Stanford University researchers are behind this new creation. According to their study paper, the prototype works thanks to the principle of ‘eversion’. Basically, the robot’s body is folded within itself, so to move, it has to unfurl its plastic ‘innards’.
The Vine-Like and Growing Robot is Still in the Prototype Stage
“Essentially, we’re trying to understand the fundamentals of this new approach to getting mobility or movement out of a mechanism,” states Allison Okamura, a mechanical engineer part of the study.
Okamura also points out that this is a different way of locomotion from humans and most creatures.
The growing robot will basically “regurgitate” itself. Its front tip will be continuously new, as it will present the most recently released skin. This robotic creation’s body will lengthen as the end material will extend.
When fully unfolded, it will reach a length of 236 feet. It is also capable of achieving a pretty impressive speed of 21.7 mph.
The team, however, will not be focusing on its moving speed. Instead, it is looking to develop a robot that can move through challenging environments such as twisted, rocky, areas.
The available prototype is filled with air and powered by pneumatic air pressure. However, the research team considers that it could come to be made out of tougher materials, such as Kevlar, for example.
In turn, this might make it fillable with other materials as well. The team believes that it might come to contain water, which it could then transport to victims trapped under rubble or in other emergency situations.
Thanks to its inflatable nature, the robot could also come to be used in lifting heavy objects out of the way. These are also just a number of its vehiculated, future applications, which the scientists are now striving to achieve.
A paper in the journal Science Robotics offers further details on this growing robot.
Image Source: Wikimedia
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