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Robot Mimics a 450-Million-Year-Old Extinct Marine Organism

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Carnegie Mellon's soft robotic replica of pleurocystitids.

This new approach intends the use of softbotics to breathe new life into organisms now extinct and to gain insights into the biomechanical forces that once shaped their evolution.

Credit: Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) researchers have developed a new approach to robotics that uses insights from extinct organisms to create soft robots.

In collaboration with paleontologists from Spain and Poland, the researchers have introduced the field of Paleobionics with a robot that mimics the marine organism pleurocystitid, which lived around 450 million years ago.

The robot mimics the pleurocystitid's flexible columnar structure using computational simulations, soft robotics, and three-dimensionally printed elements.

Said CMU's Carmel Majidi, "A lot of fundamental principles of biology and nature can only fully be explained if we look back at the evolutionary timeline of how animals evolved. We are building robot analogues to study how locomotion has changed."

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