Inspired by Squids, Researchers Develop 'Squidbot' to Probe Deeper Underwater Surfaces
The 'Squidbot' is being hailed as a win for soft robotics | Image credit: Twitter
Squids are popular for squirting ink onto potential threat but researchers have found an amazing use for their physiological design.
Drawing inspiration from squids, a team of researchers have created an underwater robot which is capable of propelling itself forward by expelling jets of water for faster movement.
The robot is aptly named “squidbot.” The machine is untethered, which means it is free to move on its own. It includes a ‘strain’ chamber that inflates by taking in water and then expels that water to swim about freely.
It can potentially go anywhere and manoeuvre with a grace unlike any other probe so far. It can help capture images and videos around fragile and sensitive structures like corals without interfering with its environment. It is designed with the most soft materials possible to allow such kind of manoeuvring.
This 'squidbot' uses jet propulsion to navigate the ocean pic.twitter.com/bP4x3DvheK— The Independent (@Independent) October 7, 2020
“That is the primary untethered robotic that may generate jet pulses for fast locomotion just like the squid and may obtain these jet pulses by altering its physique form, which improves swimming effectivity,” said Michael Tolley, a professor on the College of California San Diego.
It is not the first time scientists have been inspired by animals. Engineers and inventors often turn to nature to find a muse that will inspire their next creation. How birds have inspired drones and some took inspiration from insects in order to teach robots how to walk. Similarly, if an invention was aimed at making underwater expeditions easier, engineers started to look at aquatic creatures for inspiration. They found it in squid. Tolley explained how they simply recreated all the key features that a squid uses naturally to speed up their swimming.
When it isn’t swimming, the robot looks like a paper lantern. It has soft ribs with collapsible spring, the dailymail reported.
During its first experimental swim in the lab, squidbot showed off its abilities to steer and change direction of its nozzle. The nozzle takes in the water from one end and expels it from another.
It swam at about 18 to 32 centimetres per second. This speed is much fatser than any other ‘soft robots’ in use. It has some real-life potential for use in field of marine exploration, according to researchers.