Friday, March 21, 2014

German Engineers Develop Real Doctor Octopus Arms

The Germans have robotic tentacle technology.  Yeah, this will end well...

Longtime Spider-Man fans know that one of the Marvel Comics character's most dangerous enemies is one Dr. Otto Gunther Octavius, a.k.a. Doctor Octopus, a mad scientist with four powerful mechanical appendages fused to his spine after an accidental raditional leak resulted in an explosion.  Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in The Amazing Spider-Man (vol.1) #3 in 1963, Doc Ock quickly became a popular supervillain for Marvel and was portrayed later on by Alfred Molina in the 2004 film Spider-Man 2.

According to an article from New Scientist, German engineering firm Festo has developed actual real-life versions of Doc Ock's robotic tentacle arms.  Of course, the arm is described as a "bionic elephant trunk" instead, but the principle's the same.  The device was created to allow expanded dexterity and range of movement to industrial robots and was formed of 3D-printed segments that can be controlled by an array of pneumatic artificial muscles.

"They used a process called 'goal babbling'," stated the article, "thought to mimic the way a baby learns to grab things by continually reaching – a process of trial and error that lets them work out which muscles they need to move.  Similarly, the robot remembers what happens to the trunk's position when tiny changes are made to the pressure in the thin pneumatic tubes feeding the artificial muscles.  This creates a map that relates the trunk's precise position to the pressures in each tube."

It seems the bionic tentacle trunk "can now be trained to repeat actions and pluck anything from light bulbs to hazelnuts."  I'm guessing carrying large sacks of money with dollar signs on them out of opened bank vault doors is somewhere in the ballpark as well.

And the mind boggles at the thought of what Japanese tentacle porn fetishists will think of this.

Here's a YouTube from New Scientist showing Doc Ock's arms the bionic elephant trunk in action...

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