FYI… a ray is what they call a starfish “arm”. In this case, because I am unsure if the arm of a Brittle Star is still called a "ray", I'll be using the term "appendage(s)".
You know, as I write this, I have Patrick Starfish’s voice laughing in my head (he’s from Spongebob Squarepants)!
Japanese universities of Tohoku (University) and (University of) Hokkaido have recently completed a joint project, designing and building a robot with a starfish inspired look to it that they believe will enable it to better maneuver through hazardous environments.
Based on the sea creature the "brittle star", the robot has been designed to continue moving even if one or more of its arms are damaged.
Previously, having a robot that was unable to move properly would spell the end of an exploration, the star robot, however alleviates that concern.
The universities observed how a brittle star was able to self-amputate a ray/arm, in case it was damaged, or if it was in the grip of a predator... knowing that it could re-grow the appendage later. Even if it's multiple rays/arms.
Self-amputation? Doesn't that hurt?
I'm no genius, but isn't Spongebob's buddy Patrick Starfish made out to be one of the stupidest creatures under the sea?
While a starfish lacks a centralized brain, it has a complex nervous system with a nerve ring around the mouth and a radial nerve running along the ambulacral region of each arm parallel to the radial canal.
The Brittle Star - a close relative of a starfish, but actually a different creature, lacks a central nervous system... so it does not appear to feel pain.
The Brittle Star has five rays, and so the scientists--led by Tohuku's professor Ishiguro Akio (surname first)--made sure to create their robot with five appendages.
|Did you know that the Brittle Star's mouth is ringed with five jaws which also acts as its anuses... or is it anusii? Wait... it eats with that mouth(s)?|
Each of the robot's arms contain sensors that measure reactive force during movement, as that arm kicks against the ground.
If that force moves it in the desired direction, that arm continues to kick.
But, if the arm is damaged and is self-amputated--meaning the robot can't move correctly--the robot stops kicking with that arm.
Then, with its remaining appendages, the robot re-coordinates its movements to allow the robot to move in the direction it was going before.
Apparently the Brittle Star robot can make the adjustments in mere seconds.
A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Royal Society Open Science. You can see the robot in action, in the following YouTube video:.
The robot, it is hoped, will be used in disaster areas where conventional robotics are unable to perform.
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?
PS: Why does Spongebob Squarepants wear rectangular pants?
PPS: More importantly, how has years of watching Spongebob not damaged my brain to the point of where I can't understand this science? Isn't nature wonderful?
PPPS: I'm asking... I really don't know.
PPPPS: By the way... the voice of Patrick Starfish is by Bill Fagerbakke, the actor best known as Dauber from the television show Coach.
|Bill Fagerbakke - Dauber - is on the right. Craig T. Nelson (Coach) is on the left.|