Seals and other pinnipeds inspired a multi-institutional team of researchers to develop a waddling soft robot that reportedly features "improved degrees of freedom, gait trajectory diversity, limb dexterity, and payload capabilities."
The three-limbed robot locomotes via undulating movements while supported by a rigid "backbone" modeled after fin-footed mammals.
Each limb is propelled by liquid-filled pneumatic actuators to achieve varying levels of rigidity in order to control the robot's direction.
The researchers said the robot's symmetric weight distribution complicates its ability to remain stable while moving forward, although it can move faster when walking in reverse because its body counteracts the torque imbalance.
The team thinks such robots could find use in hazardous operations like search and rescue missions, nuclear site inspections, and even planetary exploration.
From Popular Science
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