The octopus with its soft and flexible tentacles is a marvel of locomotion and  manipulation. The Octopus Project hopes to mimic those qualities in a machine. They've not quite made a completely soft robot octopus yet, but they've got the tentacles figured out.
First, those big tentacles at the front are labeled as "SMA Arms," which means that they're actuated by a shape-memory alloy that changes is length when heated, no servos or anything necessary. The other six arms are silicone with a steel cable inside, and this steel cable is attached to a bunch of nylon cables, and by manipulating those nylon cables, the tentacle can be made to wiggle around and even grip things.

Read more and see a couple of videos of this mechanical calamari at IEEE Spectrum's robotics blog. Link -via Not Exactly Rocket Science

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