Researchers study seahorse tail’s markup for advanced robotic medical devices

Researchers study seahorse tail’s markup for advanced robotic medical devices

A team of researchers at Oregon State University have explored the makeup of the seahorse tail and rendered its mechanics using 3D-printed prototypes as part of their efforts to provide flexibility to stiff robots.

Seahorse can be described as a small fish with horse-like head. Unlike most creatures, seahorse's tail is made of square prisms. The researchers involved in the study wanted to determine whether the grasping ability and armored functions of seahorse tail's cross-sectional architecture are better than commonly found cylindrical tails.

Mechanical Engineering Asst. Prof. Michael Porter, who led the research, said, "The square one just felt better. It felt like it basically fit together better and just performed more robustly, whereas the round one just didn't really hold its shape well and just didn't seem to fit together as well."

The research is efforts to develop better miniature robots and medical devices that could be inserted into the veins to detect diseases and treat the ailments. The researchers found that a square device worked better than the one that was cylindrical in shape.

Made up of nearly three dozen square-like segments and composed of four L-shaped corner plates, a seahorse tail model easily entered and moved into veins while maintaining its shape. The researchers expressed hope that biology could be used as a source of inspiration for engineering, and engineering could be used as a tool to explore deeper into biology.

The findings of the research appeared in the most recent issue of the journal Science.

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