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Japanese Robot Gets Around With Crazy Tentacles

When it comes to robo-locomotion, you’ve got your wheels, your treads, your jointed legs. Now, you can add whip-like mechanical tentacles to the list, and they’re way more effective — and freaky — than you might think.

The Metallic Vaio 2012, with its custom-built tentacle legs, was built for the 6th KONDO LAND Multi-Legged Robot Obstacle Race where it managed to somersault away with not only the second place prize, but the one for MVP as well, doubtlessly leaving some of the less decorated contestants feeling jilted and insecure.

The Metallic Vaio’s caterpillar-esque tentacle appendages boast 18 degrees of freedom which allows them to rotate, flex, pinch, and unfurl in various combinations. That’s a lot, considering your average robotic leg has around 6. All these axes mean the Vaio has a whole bunch of ways to get around, from rolling, to crawling, to things that come a little more close to skittering. Even with that so options, turning seems to be a bit of a weakness, and it really excels at just rolling haphazardly forward at full speed.

You might be hard-pressed to find a practical purpose for this little guy, but he’s definitely got a unique approach to getting around. That said, you might want to stick to riding things with wheels for the time being. [IEEE Spectrum]


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