The Loh Down On Science

Roboctopus

Never fear . . .  Ro-boc-topus is here!??

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science??And a new rubbery-limbed, shape-shifting, color-changing robot. ?

Roboctopus, as we like to call it, is the brainchild of Harvard's George Whitesides and colleagues.  Picture a hand-sized, four-armed starfish made of squishy, translucent rubber. With inflatable chambers in the limbs and body, and skin embedded with vein-like tubes. It allows for color signaling and camouflage research under very controlled conditions. 

??Inflating and deflating the chambers gives it life, and pumping dye through its veins changes its color.  Puff it up like an orange crab and tiptoe it onto volcanic rock.  Hungry seabird come a-swoopin’? Well, turn it coal black, make one limb red, and wave it like a poisonous snake. Bye bye birdie! ??

Roboctopus can also change temperature, glow, and squeeze through tight spaces. So navigate the flat front half under a door. Then inflate front limbs, pull rear-end through to the other side and – Boo! – freak out friends and colleagues.

??Your research dollars at work! Nah, just good, clean fun.

<em>The Loh Down on Science</em> is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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