harvard 3D prints the first autonomous octopus robot harvard 3D prints the first autonomous octopus robot
aug 29, 2016

harvard 3D prints the first autonomous octopus robot




harvard 3D printed octopus robot octobot: a team of harvard university researchers with expertise in 3D printing, mechanical engineering, and microfluidics has demonstrated the first autonomous, untethered, entirely soft robot. this small, 3D printed robot — nicknamed the ‘octobot’ — could pave the way for a new generation of such machines. soft robotics could help revolutionize how humans interact with machines. but researchers have struggled to build entirely compliant robots. electric power and control systems — such as batteries and circuit boards — are rigid, and until now soft-bodied robots have been either tethered to an off-board system or rigged with hard components.



video courtesy of harvard university




‘one longstanding vision for the field of soft robotics has been to create robots that are entirely soft, but the struggle has always been in replacing rigid components like batteries and electronic controls with analogous soft systems and then putting it all together,’ said robert wood, professor of engineering and applied sciences. ‘this research demonstrates that we can easily manufacture the key components of a simple, entirely soft robot, which lays the foundation for more complex designs.’

harvard 3d printed octopus robot octobot designboom




‘through our hybrid assembly approach, we were able to 3D print each of the functional components required within the soft robot body, including the fuel storage, power, and actuation, in a rapid manner,’ said lewis. ‘the octobot is a simple embodiment designed to demonstrate our integrated design and additive fabrication strategy for embedding autonomous functionality.’

harvard 3d printed octopus robot octobot designboom




octopuses have long been a source of inspiration in soft robotics. these curious creatures can perform incredible feats of strength and dexterity with no internal skeleton. harvard’s octobot is pneumatic-based, and so is powered by gas under pressure. a reaction inside the bot transforms a small amount of liquid fuel (hydrogen peroxide) into a large amount of gas, which flows into the octobot’s arms and inflates them like balloons.

  • Cool. I wish there were a bit more technical description. Is the robot remote-controlled (via radio signals) or is it a kind of “wind-up” performance in which the choreography is pre-set, and in which the creature does its routine and then stops? I assume the latter, and can just begin to guess how fluid under pressure might flow around a circuit, causing chemical reactions in sequence, etc.

    James says:

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