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Writhing Robotic Tentacle Uses Laser To Chop Nuke Hardware

This cool robotic arm from OC Robotics is an articulated tentacle arm that can get into small spaces and awkward geometries.


(Laser snake from OCRobotics)

The robotic arm itself is actually hollow, which allows OC Robotics to install tools at its end—in this case, for laser cutting. The arm currently holds a five-kilowatt laser, which is able to cut through thick plates of steel in both air and water.

Its most recent test took place in the Sellafield nuclear power plant, in the north of England, which is currently being decommissioned. There, it was used to slice up a thick dissolver vessel, which had previously formed part of the core nuclear reactor hardware.

H.G. Wells was the first one to describe a writhing robotic tentacle in fiction (as far as I know); readers recall the steel tentacles from his 1898 novel War of the Worlds:

Seen nearer, the Thing was incredibly strange, for it was no mere insensate machine driving on its way. Machine it was, with a ringing metallic pace, and long, flexible, glittering tentacles (one of which gripped a young pine tree) swinging and rattling about its strange body.

Via Technology Review.

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