Researchers with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the University of Minnesota are working to create “self-aware, self-sensing” flexible robots akin to squid.
U.S. military assets may not be able to “release the Kraken!” anytime soon, but advances in three-dimensional technology coupled with a scientific understanding of invertebrates is paving the way for robotic squid.
Progress on one of ARL’s many projects was recently discussed by researcher Ed Habtour and University of Minnesota professor Michael McAlpine.
“In the initial phase of the project, our team began by investigating new methods for emulating the locomotion of invertebrates,” Mr. McAlpine said, Army Times reported Wednesday. “If we can understand these [high-bending interactions without skeletal support], then we can use those insights to fabricate dynamic structures and flexible robots which are designed to be self-aware, self-sensing and capable of adjusting their morphologies and properties in real time to adapt to a myriad of external and internal conditions.”
Existing robots are ill-equipped to navigate “confined or restricted spaces,” Mr. Habtour added.
Materials issued to future troops will not need to be “dried, heated or assembled” and will require “little training and could be used for printable robots that soldiers could make and use whenever and wherever they’re needed,” Army Times reported.
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ARL’s work is in the early stages of development.