To help explore underwater surroundings without damaging coral or sea life, engineers from UC San Diego created a robot squid (through Hackster.io).
Soft robots are less likely to damage aquatic life than rigid ones. Researchers used mainly soft materials like acrylic polymer to build the device, together with a few 3D printed and laser-cut rigid parts.
The team drew inspiration from the jet propulsion mechanism of authentic squid to help the robot float by itself. It takes some water into its flexible body, where it also stores energy.
The apparatus can adjust the nozzle’s place, so it can swim in any way.
The engineers claim the robot can travel around half a mile per hour, which is quicker than most soft robots. The robot also has a waterproof compartment that could house a camera or other sensor, which is vital for recording data.
“Basically, we recreated all the key features that squids use for high-speed swimming,” said Michael T. Tolley, a professor in the university’s department of mechanical and aerospace engineering, and a senior author on a newspaper about the robot.
“This is the first untethered robot which can generate jet pulses for rapid locomotion like the squid and can achieve these jet pulses by modifying its body shape, which enhances swimming efficiency.”