This fluid powered, 3D-printed “Octobot” has no solid parts except for a very small piece of platinum. Researchers at Harvard created it just a few days ago and the robotics community has been going nuts about it on the internet.
The octobot doesn’t need batteries, circuit boards or any metal parts. Even its logic circuit is completely soft. It runs on liquid hydrogen. A chemical reaction causes its arms to move.
Even though the octobot is interesting, it isn’t that useful– yet. It runs out of fuel in about 8 minutes.
The most expensive part of the robot is the platinum that is used to trigger the chemical reaction. Other than that, it’s actually super cheap.
Once 3D printers become a standard household item, people will be able to print out all kinds of interesting stuff, including weird soft robots like the octobot.
We’ll have to wait and see if “soft robot” technology will take off or if this early breakthrough will be stopped by some kind of design roadblock later on down the road.