Forget robot octopuses; Here’s robotic octopus suction cups

Credit: Image via Dive Zone

That’s right. We’ve had our fair share of utterly terrifying octopus limb robots, but that’s a thing of the past (writer’s note: it’s not actually a thing of the past) now that the human race is focusing on a small part of octopus anatomy: the sucker.

As you probably know, octopus arms are covered in hundreds of suckers that are perfect for hanging onto slippery walls or grabbing a quick dinner of shellfish. It’s something that researchers have been trying to mimic for sometime, but this came with its own set of difficulties. At first, researchers used a central air pump connected to several suction cups, but if one lost contact with the object it was attempting to adhere to, then the whole device would fall off.

One of the biggest issues is robots are generally programmed to work with a certain object or type of object. The aim of the suction cups is to work with any object.

Now, a group of researchers from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center and the University of Maryland are creating individually activated robotic sucks made on 3- D printers. Each individual sucker is activated by a central vacuum, and any suction cup that’s not in use closes up. More pressure is then sent to the suction cups in use. And they’re incredibly strong. Four of these suction cups are the size of a fingertip and can hold a full bottle of wine.

These work well on land, but the team plans to next move to habitat of its inspiration: the sea.

Via Scientific American