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Underwater Snail-o-Bot gets kick from light
Eine Spanische Tänzerin. Copyright: Adobe Stock

Underwater Snail-o-Bot gets kick from light

Light-fueled liquid crystal gels used to create robot inspired by aquatic invertebrates

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart in cooperation with Tampere University in Finland developed a gel-like robot inspired by sea slugs and snails they are able to steer with light. Much like the soft body of these aquatic invertebrates, the bioinspired robot is able to deform easily inside water when exposed to this energy source. Due to specifically aligned molecules of liquid crystal gels – its building material – and illumination of specific parts of the robot, it is able to crawl, walk, jump, and swim inside water. The scientists see their research project as an inspiration for other roboticists who struggle to design untethered soft robots that are able to move freely in a fluidic environment. Such inventions could one day play a pivotal role in the research field of minimally-invasive robotic medical applications.

liquid crystal gels soft-robotics minimally-invasive robots metin sitti physical intelligence nature Tampere University untethered soft robot


pi Hamed Shahsavan
Hamed Shahsavan
Postdoctoral Researcher
pi Amirreza Aghakhani
Amirreza Aghakhani
Postdoctoral Researcher
pi Metin Sitti
Metin Sitti
pi Yubing Guo
Yubing Guo
Postdoctoral Researcher
sg Linda Behringer
Linda Behringer
Public Relations Officer