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A team of Harvard University researchers has created the world's first autonomous, untethered, entirely soft robot.
The small, 3D-printed robot, nicknamed the octobot, could pave the way for a new generation of completely soft, autonomous machines.
"One long-standing vision for the field of soft robotics has been to create robots that are entirely soft, but the struggle has always been in replacing rigid components such as batteries and electronic controls with analogous soft systems and then putting it all together," said one its creators, Professor Robert Wood.
The Harvard team has ovecome the hurdles through a mix of new approaches, such as using pneumatic technology to create a reaction inside the bot that transforms a small amount of liquid fuel into a large amount of gas, flowing into the octobot's arms and inflating them like a balloon.