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Robotic Worms Could One Day Dig Beneath Your Feet

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An earthworm.

The burrowing skills of earthworms are difficult to mimic.

Credit: Getty Images

Scientists are creating earthworm-inspired soft robots, envisioning their flexibility as an advantage for penetrating hard-to-reach areas.

The Italian Institute of Technology (IIT)'s Riddhi Das said his team has developed a robot that bulges in and out laterally while stretching and contracting its length, using positive and negative pressure to generate outward force.

The 45-centimeter (1.5-foot)-long robot contains gel that simulates the earthworm's radial movements better than other types of liquid.

The University of Notre Dame's Yasemin Ozkan-Aydin called this an important achievement, as each of the robot's segments can expand in two directions, mimicking earthworm locomotion.

Meanwhile, researchers at multinational GE are engineering a self-propelling earthworm robot powered by pneumatic artificial muscles as a safer tool for installing underground utility infrastructure.

From BBC News
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Abstracts Copyright © 2023 SmithBucklin, Washington, D.C., USA


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