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Scientists Have Built a Shark-Sucking Robot That Is Hideous and Cool

September 20, 2017

If you've ever watched "Shark Week," you know those weird fish stuck just below sharks' gaping maws—well, now there's a robotic version of those little guys. Researchers led by Li Wen at Beihang University in China have built a robot based on the slender sharksucker (yep, that's its name). The the soft robot is really more of an underwater suction cup with a twist: the rigid carbon spines on the inside move in eerie waves, looking very much alive (and not a little creepy).

In tests, the researchers showed the robo-remora could attach to all kinds of different surfaces, including dolphin and shark skin, and could withstand pull-off forces up to 340 times its weight. Wang's team figure the remora-bot could be a great way for autonomous underwater vehicles to hitch rides on things, thereby extending their missions. The work was published today in the journal Science Robotics (paywall).

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