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Chinese Scientists Engineer Flexible, Faster-Swimming Robot

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This soft manta ray-like robot uses bendable materials, rather than rigid motors, to move through water.

Chinese scientists have engineered a flexible, remote-controlled robot that can swim through water almost twice as fast as previous similar robo-swimmers without being tethered.

Credit: Li et al. 2017

Chinese researchers have developed a flexible, remote-controlled robotic ray that can swim through water nearly twice as fast as previous robo-swimmers without being tethered, giving it more freedom to move around its surroundings.

The robot moves using bendable materials instead of hard motors, making it lighter and better able to squeeze into tight spaces and adjust to extreme environments.

The silicone robot can withstand a variety of cold and warm temperatures and can swim for about three hours on a single battery charge, according to the researchers.

The robotic ray moves by flexing its "muscles," which are made up of dielectric elastomers, a type of flexible material that can harness electric currents to create movement.

Tufts University's Barry Trimmer says the underwater robot is "quite interesting" because it combines "standard soft robot technologies," such as dielectric elastomers, to work out "novel solutions."

From The Wall Street Journal
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Abstracts Copyright © 2017 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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