Greek Scientists Build Robot Octopus That Swims and Crawls

Posted on October 2, 2014

Robot octopus at FORTH

Researchers at the Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas (FORTH) in Greece have built a robot octopus that can swim in the water and crawl along the sea floor. The robot uses its eight flexible silicone arms for walking and its arms and silicone webbed body to propel itself for swimming.

IEEE Spectrum reports that the FORTH researchers have managed to double the speed of the robot octopus since it was first created in 2013. The silicone web between the robot's tentacles helps improve the cost of transport. The robot achieved speeds of 0.5 body lengths per second. The first version of the robot did not have the webbing. It replicated a swimming movement used by octopi known as sculling, which requires synchronized movement of all eight tentacles.

The robot octopus is seen in a tank and in the Aegean Sea. The robot's swimming motion in the sea looks much faster and more efficient than its slow awkward walk across the bottom of the tank. The robot also carries a little yellow ball in the video. Carrying the ball makes it more difficult for the robot to swim. Take a look:



Image: FORTH