They invent an octopus-inspired glove to hold any object underwater
With this glove a person could manipulate any object under the water as if it were an octopus.
Human beings are not prepared to pick up and hold objects underwater, and to endow ourselves with an ability that different marine creatures such as octopuses do have, now a team of researchers from Virginia Tech has developedeither an octopus-inspired glove capable of safely grasping objects underwater.
This glove features a series of rubber suction cups and sophisticated sensing capabilities with sensors that mimic an octopus’s unique muscular and nervous system.
And it is that octopuses are equipped with eight long tentacles that can grab a multitude of objects under water, tentacles that are covered by more than 2000 suction cups controlled by the animal’s nervous and muscular system.
To recreate those octopus capabilities, they’ve created a wearable system called an “octa-glove” that features rubber stems covered in powered membranes that mimic octopuses, activating a reliable attachment to objects with light pressure, ideal for sticking to objects. flat and curved surfaces.
To get it added an array of micro-LiDAR optical proximity sensors capable of detecting the proximity of an objectwhile the suction cups and lidar were then connected to a microcontroller to pair object detection with the suction cup, mimicking the nervous and muscular system of an octopus.
“By fusing soft, responsive adhesive materials with embedded electronics, we can grip objects without having to squeeze them. Makes handling wet or underwater objects much easier and more natural”, notes the Virginia Tech assistant professor, Michael Bartlett.
With this they created this kind of glove with synthetic suction cups and sensors integrated with each other, capable of grasping many different shapes underwater. However, in the tests they were able to grasping and manipulating objects such as metal toys, cylinders, and a ball of hydrogel and using only one sensor. They were also able to pick up larger objects like a plate, a box, or a cup.
“These capabilities mimic advanced cephalopod manipulation, detection, and control and provide a platform for underwater adhesive synthetic skins that can reliably manipulate diverse underwater objects.”, says the postdoctoral researcher Ravi Tutika.
For the future, they want their new glove to play a role in the field of soft robotics for underwater gripping, but also for applications in user-assisted technologies and healthcare.
They intend to use it, for example, in rescue divers, underwater archaeologists, bridge engineers and salvage teams.