Imagine a robot. I’m guessing, after decades of droids and cylons and terminators, that the machine pictured was something metal, rigid, and human-shaped. It’s the popular vision of robots, but clunky, rigid, metal bodies can only do so much. Soft robots is the field of squishier machines, and today a team of Harvard University researchers announced its latest floppy creation: an autonomous, 3D printed octopus-shaped robot nicknamed “octobot.”
The fuel, circuits, and motors are all printed within the octobot’s body. Right now, the autonomy consists of the machine deciding when to flex its little robot limbs. Future versions of the octobot man crawl, walk, and otherwise deliberately flop about like other soft robots, but for now, this little machine is a flailing start of an idea. An embryonic creation, it is the goopy seed of future designs, ones that will not only be autonomous, but will have something they can do with that autonomy.
Watch a video about it below: