Researchers from the University of California San Diego have managed to develop a robot that is capable of replicating the movements of a squid as its swims. It can also propel itself using jets of water and can carry external sensors like a camera to allow it to explore the depths of the ocean, all while being untethered to an external power source.
The robot, aptly named ‘Squidbot’ essentially re-creates the key features of squids when they swim at high speeds. The team behind the Squidbot state that it is the first untethered robot that propels itself using jet pulses. It is capable of doing this thanks to its ability to change to its body shape to improve swimming efficiency, similar to how to a real-life squid moves through the water.
The robot is mostly made up of soft materials like acrylic polymer that helps it survive against potential threats like fish and coral, which can easily damage a rigid robot. The unique design of the Squidbot and its ability to change shape allowed the design team to overcome a common shortcoming of soft robots, that being poor manoeuvrability and slow movement, according to reports from Slashgear.
The elements of the Squidbot that aren’t made of soft materials are instead constructed from rigid 3D printed and laser-cut parts. These include a set of ‘ribs’ which are connected to a pair of circular plates at the two ends of the robot. One of these plates carries either a water-proof camera or other type of sensor, while the second plate connects to a nozzle that takes in, and ejects water whenever the robot contracts its body.
Take a look at the Squidbot in action below.
Picture: Screenshot from video