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New Discovery on Cat Tongues Leads to 'Soft Robot' Innovations

Nov 30, 2016 08:49 AM EST

New research from Georgia Tech has revealed one interesting discovery on cats' tongue anatomy. This new discovery has led scientists to conceptualize "soft robotics" which can be used for gripping items.

According to a report from Washington Post, cats' tongues are made up of tiny bristles or spines which are similar to hairbrushes. These tiny bristles have the ability to grip items from fur such as dirt, ticks, and even tangled fur.

Similar to how Velcro works, cats' tongues have impressive gripping abilities. Furthermore, compared with the nasty and stubborn hairbrush bristles, cats' tongues have better abilities of detangling and are much easier to clean. Their tongues also have the ability to improve circulation in their bodies.

According to the study published in Live Science done by researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology they have explored how tongue spines glide over fur and how saliva actually contributes to the cats' grooming. It has been found that wetting a surface increases friction between hair.

This idea has helped researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology to idealize a "soft robot" which can be used to grip surfaces, a device aimed to be used in the medical field. It is in the best interest of these researchers to develop this technology into a device which could be used for cleaning wounds. In particular, they want to be able to mimic the Velcro characteristics of cat tongue to clean off dirt and other unwanted particles on the surface of a wound while improving the circulation within the problem area.  

"Soft robots," according to Time, are not the conventional type of machines people usually imagine with metal parts and bolts. These are machinery that are designed to be more flexible and behave more similarly to body parts of humans or other organisms. Used to mimic the dynamics of a body, these kinds of robots move much smoother and more fluid than conventional robots.  

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