February 18, 2012 8:30 PM
by Keith Hammond
Everyone loves a soft robot, and I'm fond of the marine variety. This bioinspired prototype tentacle, made of silicone rubber, not only curls and extends in eerily squidlike fashion, it's also got pressure sensors embedded beneath its suckers so it can grasp objects, like a cephalopod should.
The tentacle was built by a team of Italian and Israeli scientists led by Cecilia Laschi (Che-cheelia, that's fun to say), associate professor of biorobotics at the Scuole Superior Sant'Anna near the coast of Tuscany. They say it'll be good for undersea exploration and rescue. I'm thinking naval cephalobots will envelop enemy ships in huge suction cups and drag them down to silent doom. Kraken!
Perhaps robotic cuttlefish could be also trained to tend the world's seagoing salmon pens, or "ride herd" on schools of free-range calamari. Now I'm hungry for Italian seafood.