Robotic caterpillar as a piece of art

Tufts_caterpillar_softbot2.jpg

Photos: Barry Trimmer/Tufts University

A soft-bodied caterpillarlike robot prototype developed by researchers at Tufts University will be part of an exhibition at New York's Museum of Modern Art.

Tufts_caterpillar_softbot1.jpg

The MoMA exhibition, called Design and the Elastic Mind (24 February to 12 May 2008), will showcase examples of "disruptive innovation" -- objects, projects, and concepts from designers, scientists, and engineers from all over the world.

The Tufts team, led by biology professor Barry Trimmer and biomedical engineering professor David Kaplan, drew inspiration from the Manduca sexta caterpillar to build the squishable "softbot" prototype, about 30.5 cm long and made of silicon elastomer.

The researchers, based at Tufts' Medford/Somerville, Mass. campus, say the biomimetic robot could be used in emergency search and rescue operations, medical diagnosis and treatment, and manufacturing and aerospace applications.

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