Cthulhu Will Be Proud Of These Ultra-Gentle Microrobotic Tentacles


Most robots use finger-like appendages to grab things, although they can also use mouth-like grippers to change things up. When you need robots to handle delicate objects, though, forceful claws, fingers, and grippers probably aren’t the ideal candidates. That’s why someone made these soft Microrobotic Tentacles.

Created by a team of engineers from Iowa State, the soft-robots can grab ahold of delicate objects with the gentlest of grips, allowing them to wrap around the body of an ant without harming it. More importantly, they were able to do it at minuscule levels, creating for gripper robots that can be used to handle very small and very delicate objects.

The Microrobotic Tentacles are made from microtubes that measure just 8mm long and a quarter of a millimeter in a diameter. Each one is fabricated from PDMS, a type of transparent elastomer that they’ve formed into a soft, rubbery solid structure. The big challenge for the team, though, was mimicking the action of spiraling tentacles in a tube as tiny as 8mm in length, prompting them to develop new ways to build the microtubes, as well as enable it to create the kind of coiling that resembles the tentacles found in nature.

According to Jaeyoun Kim, one of the engineers in the project, the properties of the Microbotic Tentacles make them ideal for medical applications. Since they are soft, small, and gentle, they can be used to grab onto delicate body parts like blood vessels during operations without causing damage.

You can learn more from the paper over at Nature.

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One Response

  1. amy

    this is really a neat, micro-level technology that Ive never seen before, at least in the general public! i feel like this is more of a technology and device though that would be used by scientists or research in a more controlled, professional or academic environment versus at home use. perhaps a jeweler could especially benefit from technology like this. how long does it last, and how is it powered? i wonder how much one of these would run cost wise. the soft arms and claws was a really good idea, and it’s definitely unique in it’s nature. these look really durable, and i think it’s awesome, like much technology, that this was developed in a Lab. the tentacle technology is really smart, and it looks pretty neat for maybe even doing assignments that are first-aid or even operationally based an ER or the likes.


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