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Introducing a pulsed-jet robotic squid 


Recent research by engineers from the University of California San Diego (UCSD) has resulted in the development of an untethered robot that mimics the propulsion of cephalopods, a kind of marine invertebrate.

Robotic Squid shown in underwater environment

UCSD’s robot has appropriately been dubbed ‘Squidbot’, as its key features are similar to those squids use for high-speed swimming. Squidbot can change its shape and generate powerful streams of water that can propel it forward underwater. It has its own power source, and can also carry sensors such as a camera for underwater exploration. The robot is constructed from soft materials, which includes some rigid, 3D-printed, and laser-cut components.

UCSD is not the only organisation investigating the mechanics behind squids’ pulsed-jet propulsion. A joint research team from the University of Strathclyde, the University of California and China have been modelling a 2D squid-like swimmer, which has a flexible mantle body with a pressure chamber and a nozzle that serves as the inlet and outlet for water. Rather than just using the pulsed-jet propulsion, this team have considered integrating it with typical thruster propulsion to achieve on-demand maneuverability. Such an approach may eventually see use in larger vessels, like submarines.

Source: UC San Diego, 6 October 2020.