Sorry squid: this robot can catch fragile sea creatures without causing them harm

When scientists want to study fish and shellfish, to collect samples is quite simple: reset the network for the boat ride and for sure someone will get caught. But to collect sensitive deep-sea organisms such as squid and jellyfish, not so simple: the network can literally destroy the fragile bodies of the creatures. Zhi ERN teo, a mechanical engineer from Harvard lab microrobotics and his colleagues have developed the best way of collecting these elusive organisms.

As it was before?

Now, scientists who want to catch the delicate marine life in one of two ways (no, not the network). First: the detritus sampler, a tubular device with a round “door” on both ends. To catch the creature using this device, the operator must open the door manually position the tube over the creature, and then quickly close the door before the creature runs away. This positioning requires certain skills. The second type of devices suck the sample through the tube into the basket for storage. This process can destroy the delicate creature.

As it is I propose to do now?

To create a device that is easy to use and will not harm the sample, Theo turned to the art of origami. He invented a device with a housing made of 3D-printed photopolymer and fashioned it in the shape of a dodecahedron, a shape with 12 identical flat faces. Open it looks like a stretched out starfish.

The device was tested at a depth of 700 meters, but it can withstand any pressure (even at a depth of 11 km). Despite the large number of connections, the device Theo opened or closed by a single move, using the power of only one rotational drive. When the operator grasps the goal, the robot will just collapse and all the 12 edges form a cage for the creature.

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