During a 2014 talk on his exploration of deep-sea coral reefs, Baruch College marine biologist David Gruber showed a video of clunky robotic hands collecting fragile specimens of coral and sponges from the ocean floor.
(From Science Daily) — Harvard engineer and roboticist Robert J. Wood was in the audience — the two scientists were being recognized as Emerging Explorers by the National Geographic Society — and a lightbulb went off.
“They were using rigid Jaws of Life-type grippers designed for the oil and gas industry that were totally overpowered and were destroying things,” Wood recalls. “It immediately clicked that there was a soft robotics solution that may be viable.”
In the months that followed, the pair collaborated to design, fabricate, and test soft robotic grippers for deep-sea collection of fragile biological specimens. Their recent expedition to the Gulf of Eilat in the northern Red Sea, a unique marine ecosystem that houses one of the world’s largest and most diverse coral reefs, marked the first use of soft robotics for the non-destructive sampling of fauna from the ocean floor.
Read the full article here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160120111515.htm