Frankenoctopus unveils novel shape-shifting arms

November 5, 2012

It looks like a creation from Frankenstein’s lab: a robot with tentacles modelled on an octopus — the world’s first entirely soft robot.

The first prototype has six silicone legs designed for locomotion, while two specialized arms use artificial muscles, motors and sensors to detect and grasp objects. A spring-like structure inside these tentacles, made from a shape-memory alloy, can expand, contract or bend in any direction with changes in temperature.

A centralized unit that mimics the central nervous system of an octopus. When an object is identified, the centralized control system coordinates the locomotion legs to move towards it, then activates the grasping arms once the octobot reaches its destination.

Although the robot is being developed for search and rescue missions on the seabed, the tentacles also have medical applications. A new project is looking at how they could help surgeons during minor operations.

— New Scientist TV