Robotic "tentacles" that can grasp and grapple with a wide variety of objects have been developed by US researchers.
Most robots rely on mechanical gripping jaws that have difficulty grabbing large or irregularly shaped objects. Replacing these with tentacle-like manipulators could make robots more nimble and flexible, say the scientists.
The tentacle-like manipulators, known as "Octarms", resemble an octopus's limb or an elephant's trunk. They were developed through a project called OCTOR (sOft robotiC manipulaTORs), which involves several US universities and is funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
"An elephant's trunk can pick up a peanut or a tree trunk," says Ian Walker, a member of the project team from Clemson University in South Carolina. "This ability, inherent in the OCTOR robots, gives OCTOR arms a huge advantage over conventional industrial robots."