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Volume 591 Issue 7848, 4 March 2021

Deep-sea diver

The extreme conditions found in the deep sea mean that this part of the planet remains largely unexplored. In this week’s issue, Tiefeng Li and his colleagues present a soft robot that can operate at depths of nearly 11,000 metres. The design of their robot was inspired by the deep-sea snailfish (Pseudoliparis swirei). The robot’s various electronic components are distributed throughout its body and the whole is encased in a flexible silicone matrix that allows it to withstand extreme pressure. In tests, the team successfully operated the robot at depths of 3,224 metres below the surface of the South China Sea, and up to 10,900 metres in the Mariana Trench. The cover shows an artist’s impression of both robot and the snailfish that inspired it.

Cover image: Tiefeng Li/Zhejiang University.

This Week

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