July 14, 2024

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Find out why elephants were the basis for creating the world’s robots

Find out why elephants were the basis for creating the world’s robots

The force of an elephant’s trunk is 86.4 newtons. Reuters/Sunil Kataria

Elephants, with their exceptional trunks, have served as an important source of inspiration in the development of advanced robotic structures.

This natural wonder is not only powerful and precise, but it is also versatile in its functions, From grabbing objects and exploring the environment Even communication.

Researchers such as Pauline Custis, a Macadiff (CNRS/National Museum of Natural History) PhD candidate at the Sorbonne, have played a key role in unraveling the secrets of this extension of the elephant’s body.

Elephants use the strength of their trunks to grasp objects with great precision.  (Illustrative image)
Elephants use the strength of their trunks to grasp objects with great precision. (Illustrative image)

Kostis and his team conducted detailed studies on six African savannah elephants at a zoo to measure the compressive force exerted by the tips of their trunks.

They found that the tip of the stem, consisting of two finger-like protrusions, possesses great strength but is designed primarily for precise grasping, not for applying extreme forces. This discovery is essential for the design of soft robots, where flexibility and precision are crucial.

We measured a maximum pinch force of 86.4 N. A newton, the international unit of force, corresponds to the force that gives a mass of one kilogram an acceleration of one meter per square second. In comparison, the maximum pressure force between the thumb and index finger in humans ranges between 49 and 68 Newtons.

Robots can imitate the action of an elephant's trunk.  (Illustrative image)
Robots can imitate the action of an elephant’s trunk. (Illustrative image)

The application of biologically inspired, elephant-proboscis-based technology in robotics is promising. Kostis imagines surgical robots capable of handling delicate tissues with the same precision with which an elephant handles small objects.

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In industry, these robots can be used to process fragile objects on production lines, ensuring efficiency and accuracy. In research and exploration environments, such as exploration in space or in hostile environments on Earth, elephant trunk-inspired robots can adapt and manipulate objects in challenging environments.

The bio-inspired soft handle design could revolutionize agriculture by allowing delicate fruits and vegetables to be harvested without harming them, thus improving efficiency and reducing waste. These advances not only improve the ability of robots to perform specific tasks and make them more adaptable and safe in different environments.

The Tesla Optimus Gen 2 is faster, less heavy, and has better joint control.  (Tesla)
The Tesla Optimus Gen 2 is faster, less heavy, and has better joint control. (Tesla)

Tesla unveiled a modified version of its Optimus Gen 2 robot, which has been enhanced with advanced motor capabilities, especially in the neck and hands.

In addition, it now has sensors built into the fingers that allow you to handle sensitive objects by precisely adjusting the pressure applied.

Redesigned bidet, Elon Musk’s robot can perform tasks such as carrying and moving fragile objects, such as eggs or glass.

Likewise, it is expected that Tesla’s expertise in driver assistance systems and autonomous vehicles, such as Autopilot, could influence the development and capabilities of humanoid robots.

The new robot can handle fragile objects.  (Tesla)
The new robot can handle fragile objects. (Tesla)

These humanoid robots, called Tesla Bot or Optimus, are designed to perform jobs typically performed by humans, especially those that are repetitive, tedious, or potentially dangerous.

So far, Tesla did not reveal details about the launch date of the robot or its sales strategies. However, according to Electreck, Tesla intends to integrate Optimus Gen 2 into its manufacturing processes and, after verifying its effectiveness, evaluate the possibility of offering it to the public.

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There are still unknown specifications about the robot, such as its height, and some of the capabilities mentioned by Elon Musk will be integrated. Among the mentioned functions is the ability to transfer the “personality” to the robot.