Scary Tentacle-Bot


Which looks to me like an example of using a genetic algorithm to “learn” how to operate a random bunch of motors/machinery etc. It isn’t of course… but it looks like it should be.

There was another tentacle-bot type thing the other day…


No good will come of this, I promise you. They say they’re going to use them for Search and Rescue… but apart from cleaning pipes etc, the main use of these things will be “against people”. Asimov got it 180 degrees wrong with his laws of robotics. The exact opposite of his laws are in fact among the main drivers for robotics.

The trouble with these snake/tentacle-bots… is that they demonstrate a dramatic increase in the number of moving-parts… each of which is a potential single-point of failure. While it might seem like a powerful idea to add more and more motors… it’s kindof a main-frame model… and will be superseded by something that has a large number of redundant parts working along-side each other. If I had to put money on this, I think I’d go for the piezo-muscles currently being experimented with at Auckland University:

And NasaDue to the viscoelastic nature of artificial muscles they can act as suspension systems, removing the need for external suspension. As they are soft they can be used around humans without fear of injury. Their miniturisability makes them ideal for small, portable equipment like cameras.

Figure 2 The ctenophore propeles itself through the water by the action of millions of cilia on its surface [1]
Our group has conducted research into making the muscles smart and self-sensing. This means that the muscle can sense its own extension, eliminating the need for external sensors and further reducing the cost and complexity of the systems. Just like human muscles, our artificial muscles can feel where they are with their eyes closed.

Artificial muscles can also be run in reverse to generate power. Imagine being able to walk up a hill with a leg-assisting device, helping you overcome your disability, or carry a heavy load. On the way down the hill the device could run in reverse to recharge its batteries, just like an electric car.