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Robotic Elephant Trunk Has a Gentle Touch

Thanks to James Cameron's Terminator films, we know that robots are stronger, faster, tougher and more Austrian than the rest of us. Their mechanical superiority is what keeps us on our toes, wary of the day when they'll be back and finally decide to bombard us with our own nuclear missiles.

One German company (isn't Austria a close cousin of Germany? Coincidence?) is working to lull us into a false sense of security. They've created a prehensile robot arm modeled after the trunk of the humble African elephant, because if robots know anything about humans, it's that we love pachyderms. And cake.

Festo's pneumatic robo-trunk is composed of 3-D printed segments, and has sensors all throughout that restrict its movement when it detects  fleshy human within its cold, metallic grip. Even the three-pronged claw is designed to collapse around an object, requiring little force to maintain its cold, robotic grasp.

Another European team is working on a prehensile robotic limb as well, except this time modeled on an octopus' tentacles. I'm guessing this won't sit well with the Japanese, who know all too well of the horrors of the tentacle menace.

[source: New Scientist]