A robotic elephant trunk uses artificial intelligence to mimic the way sensory input sets off chain reactions of synapses in organic brains. This technology could help us do away with external computers to control such robots, and allow machines to adapt to new tasks on the job.
Sebastian Otte at the University of Tubingen in Germany and his colleagues created a 3D-printed robot trunk from segments that each include several motors driving gears that tilt up to 40 degrees in two axes. These gears bend the trunk but can also elongate or shorten it.
The team created a trunk with …