The Secret To Better Soft-Bodied Robots Might Be Found In Elephant Trunks

The Army is paying for investigations on the physics of elephant trunks — and researchers say these versatile appendages may hold clues for designing better soft-bodied robots.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

An elephant’s trunk is amazingly versatile, used for all types of things.

ANDREW SCHULZ: The first is manipulation – so grabbing, sucking up objects. The second is breathing, sound production, talking to different elephant herds, touch. And finally, olfaction – so smelling.

DAVID HU: Yeah, the trunk’s really the – how they can deal with the world in a gentle way.

SHAPIRO: That’s Georgia Tech Ph.D. student Andrew Schulz and his adviser,

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