Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Squishybots: Soft, bendy and smarter than ever

Squishybots: Soft, bendy and smarter than ever: They were born thanks to a rethink of how we should design intelligent machines - an approach called "morphological computing". Its proponents argue that it is not only a robot's brain that can compute, but its body too. The way a limb, torso, or whisker interacts with its surroundings can be optimised to enhance its computational abilities - and therefore how smart the robot is...

Out of the water, the arm is floppy and helpless. But place it in its tank and something extraordinary happens. Its movement suddenly bears an uncanny resemblance to the reaching motion of an octopus. In fact, it almost looks alive.
And that's the trick. With morphological computing, it's not just the shape and substance of a body that's important, it's also the interaction with its environment that is crucial. It has the dexterity and grip to grab hold of all sorts of different objects placed into its tank. It can also push against the bed in the same way that octopuses use to "walk". And all with relatively little programming.

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