[Science & Tech] No more Iron Man—submarines now have soft, robotic arms

octobot

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The human arm can perform a wide range of extremely delicate and coordinated movements, from turning a key in a lock to gently stroking a puppy's fur. The robotic "arms" on underwater research submarines, however, are hard, jerky, and lack the finesse to be able to reach and interact with creatures like jellyfish or octopuses without damaging them. Previously, the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and collaborators developed a range of soft robotic grippers to more safely handle delicate sea life, but those gripping devices still relied on hard, robotic submarine arms that made it difficult to maneuver them into various positions in the water.

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