The robots of the future will be big softies

The robots of the future will be big softies

A soft, self-powering robot without the need of a rigid battery could be a game-changer with the way humans interact with machines - oh, and it also looks like an octopus.

The aptly named 'Octobot' was created at Harvard University and is the first of its kind.

Researchers say soft robots can better adapt to some natural environments than their inflexible cousins, making them the better in disaster situations.

The creation of the soft robots means they can break the chains of their predecessors and be free of hard batteries or wires which currently give them power.

As the name suggests, the autonomous Octobot was inspired by the octopus, which has no hard parts.

The robots of the future will be big softies


The robot's eight limbs are pneumatically powered by the release of oxygen gas from a hydrogen peroxide (bleach) fuel source reacting with platinum catalysts. It has a circuit board which directs the flow of fuel.

It was created using a combination of methods, including 3D printing of the pneumatic networks of the soft body and soft lithography.

At the moment, the soft and squidgy robot can only run between four and eight minutes, but researchers say that could be improved using a more sophisticated design.

The study was published in Nature.