Scientists from the University of Southampton, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology have jointly developed a octopus-inspired flexible hull robot which can move rapidly under water. They took inspiration from cephalopods that move rapidly by expelling water from inside their bodies.
The one foot robot has a 3D-printed skeleton that supports its hollow body. It does not have moving parts and energy storage device. However it has a thin elastic outer hull.
Initially the robot sucks water and then rapidly ejects it with a powerful contraction. This enables the robot to move forward at great speed. The peak net thrust of the robot is 2.6 times the thrust of a rigid rocket performing the same manoeuvre.
The scientists claimed that increasing the size of the robot would improve its fast-starting performance. Moreover this will help in the development of underwater vehicles that can match the speed, manoeuvrability and efficiency of their biological inspirations.
This study is published in the journal, Bioinspiration & Biomimetics.