Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Talon Gets Elephant Trunk

NewScientist.com news service
David Hambling

Most robots rely on mechanical gripping jaws that have difficulty grabbing large or irregularly shaped objects. Replacing these with tentacle-like manipulators could make robots more nimble and flexible.

The tentacle-like manipulators, known as "Octarms", resemble an octopus's limb or an elephant's trunk. They were developed through a project called OCTOR (sOft robotiC manipulaTORs), which involves several US universities and is funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Just like a real tentacle, an Octarm simply wraps itself around an object in order to manoeuvre it.

Each Octarm is powered by compressed air and has surface pressure sensors, positional sensors and a camera mounted at its tip.

The Octarms developed so far are each around a metre long, although the design could easily be scaled up or down, the researchers say. Only one has been attached to a robot at a time, but the researchers say several could work together in future.

Check out OCTOR videos here

New Scientist Tech - Breaking News - Robotic tentacles get to grips with tricky objects


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