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Tech Wednesday, May 22nd 2013 at 10:45 am

Robot Octopus Takes To The Water, Tries Out Different Swimming Strokes

This robot octopus is learning to swim by trying out a bunch of different strokes and finding out what works best. At this rate, it will be terrifying you in the pool in no time.

Octopi are great swimmers, but they’re pretty weird about how they do it. The cephalopods get around via a strange swimming technique known as sculling, which uses all eight of their rubbery legs. Unfortunately for researchers working to recreate this movement in robots, octopi around the world have failed to leave thorough notes on just how sculling works. That means a European team working to build a robotic octopus is trying to recreate the movement from scratch, with…oh, let’s call it varying degrees of success. 

The robot octopus team tried a number of motions using rigid legs to determine the success of failure of different strokes, some of which would seem right at home with “Wacky Sax” playing in the background. But the clear money shot in this video is the last few seconds, when the robot is outfitted with a set of soft, undulating legs that, if there weren’t a robot attached to them, you could swear were just standard octopus legs. They’ll probably even feel the same when they brush up against you on the beach one day. It’s going to be terrifying.

(via IEEE Spectrum)

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