Creepy robot tentacle picks flowers, might give you your next shot

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[Credit: Harvard University]

In the last few days we’ve seen two updated robot nightmares, including a robot cheetah that can outrun any human and a quadrupedal hulk that can bench press a small human. You might be thinking that things couldn’t possibly get worse than that.

Well how about a robot tentacle with a syringe on the end of it?

As spotted by New Scientist, a group of researchers at Harvard are building an inflatable robotic tentacle arm with a soft touch that can pick up a flower without crushing it.

Most robot arms today are made for their ability to lift whole car frames and perform repetitive manufacturing jobs. George Whitesides and his Harvard colleagues want to design a new “soft” robot arm that can get around tight spaces and do some of the more delicate work that people normally wouldn’t associate with a metal robot.

The tentacle arm is made up of a single flexible plastic tube filled with three air channels that run throughout the limb. When these channels are pumped with air, they change the shape of the tentacle, allowing it to wrap around an object. The inflatable arm can apply a light grip, allowing it to lift delicate things like a coffee mug and dandelions.

[Credit: Harvard University]

Whitesides says in a paper published by Advanced Materials that the team is also looking to add a video camera, syringe (gulp), or a suction cup to the end of the tentacle to make it more than a simple gripping arm.

Is this the next big thing or the next step toward the robot apocalypse? Only time will tell.

This story, "Creepy robot tentacle picks flowers, might give you your next shot" was originally published by TechHive.

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