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Meet the World's First Completely Soft Robot

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The Octobot.

Researchers at Harvard University have developed a self-contained soft robot with no hard electronic components and the ability to move without being tethered to a computer.

Credit: Adam DeTour

Harvard University researchers have created the "octobot," the first self-contained soft robot. It has no hard electronic components and moves without being tethered to a computer.

The robot moves by having hydrogen peroxide pumped into two reservoirs in the middle of its body. Pressure pushes the liquid through tubes inside the body, where it eventually hits a line of platinum, catalyzing a reaction that produces a gas. The gas expands and moves through a tiny chip called a microfluidic controller, which alternately directs the gas down half of the octobot's tentacles at a time. The alternating release of gas makes the robot wiggle its tentacles and move around, and the octobot can move for about eight minutes on one milliliter of fuel.

The researchers note the octobot is made out of materials that most microfluidics labs have on hand.

Going forward, they want to add sensing and programming capabilities that would provide more control over the robot's movements.

From Technology Review
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