Sea Horse Tail-Inspired, Flexible Robotics

Clemson University scientists studying the sea horse's square-shaped tail have discovered that it is better able to withstand attack than a smooth, round tail would be. The findings could help researchers build more flexible and durable robots in the future. The sea horse's tail, which is used for grasping objects, is made of about 36 squarish segments with a boxy cross section rather than the more common cylindrical form, such as an arm or a leg or a tree branch. Lead researcher Michael Porter had started working on a project to build a steerable catheter, and at first his design had a square cross section. But when he tried to make it round, in order to be inserted into veins, the device didn't work nearly as well as its square predecessor.