Float On: This Tiny Robot Octopus Has Finally Taken To The Sea

A team of researchers in Greece has just unleashed the latest iteration of their robotic octopus upon the Internet. This little robot is completely waterproof (obviously), and capable of carrying objects in its tentacles, crawling, and even swimming free through the ocean. They actually released a video in which it does all three - and it's almost indistinguishable from the real thing in terms of the way it moves.

According to the researchers, they recently added a new feature to their robot - silicone webbing between its tentacles. Evidently, real-world Octopi already possess this webbing, and use it to improve both speed and efficiency while in the water - by quite a bit, apparently, The researchers have reported that the webbed model is almost twice as fast in the water as the unwebbed one.

Without the web, the robot can only maintain speeds of up to 100 mm/second. With the web, however, it's able to reach speeds of 180 mm/second, with far greater efficiency besides.  You'll probably all agree with me when I say that this is a pretty cool invention...but what exactly could one use it for? What purpose would a robot like this serve?

Well...the short answer is 'science' and probably not much else.

According to the researchers, the octopus bot is an ideal platform for the observation of marine life. Fish apparently can't tell the difference between the machine and a flesh-and-blood creature (though that could be problematic if the little robot happens to run into any natural predators). I expect that - with a bit of modification - it could also be used to measure and examine water quality and conditions. 

Anyway, check out the video of the robot swimming in the Aegean Sea below.