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MIT’s latest robot looks a bit like one of those claw machines you find at the front of an arcade, only instead of metal, the claws are made of a clear, membranous substance. And instead of stuffed Minion dolls, they pick up live fish. But other than that, the principles are pretty similar.

The robot’s limbs are made from hydrogel, an extremely pliable material that’s composed primarily of water, formed into structures using 3D printing and laser cutting. When water is pumped into the limbs, they stretch or curl, opening and closing like a hand.

Using the eel-inspired robot, the researchers were able to make the claw close fast enough to grab a goldfish without harming it in the process, while a more traditional robotic hand would likely crush the fish in the process, and nobody wants that.




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MIT built a gel-based claw robot that can catch and release live fish