"Essentially, we recreated all the key features that squids use for high-speed swimming."


A team of engineers at the University of California San Diego have built a squid robot that can propel itself through the water untethered, just like the real thing.

"Essentially, we recreated all the key features that squids use for high-speed swimming," Michael T. Tolley, co-author of the paper published in the journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics last month.

"This is the first untethered robot that can generate jet pulses for rapid locomotion like the squid and can achieve these jet pulses by changing its body shape, which improves swimming efficiency," he added.

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Squids are some of the fastest swimmers in the ocean world. They generate special water jets by sucking in and expelling water through contractions of a muscular sac to propel themselves through the water.

The robot carries its own power source and is made out of a soft acrylic polymer and a few rigid, 3D-printed parts. It can also be outfitted with sensors and a camera for exploring underwater worlds. The intent of soft robotics is to ensure that underwater life is protected from bumps and scrapes.

The team was even able to steer it around a large aquarium among live fish and coral. The next step is to improve the robot's efficiency by reworking the nozzle that expels the water.

READ MORE: This 'squidbot' jets around and takes pics of coral and fish [UC San Diego]

More on underwater robots: A New Deep-Sea Robot Can Shape-Shift Into an Autonomous Submarine

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