Tohoku and Hokkaido universities in Japan have developed a robot inspired by the unique defense mechanism of the brittle star. A relative of the starfish, the brittle star can self-amputate if something grabs hold of one or more of its arms because it doesn’t have a central nervous system. It can then immediately adjust to the loss of limb and move off in any direction at a normal speed.

Led by Tohoku University’s Professor Akio Ishiguro, a team from the two universities closely studied the brittle star and developed a robot with the same capabilities. The result is a five-armed robot that can adjust to damage and keep moving within a few seconds. This tech could prove useful in disaster scenarios when a robot needs to quickly cover dangerous terrain to reach a destination.

A paper on the team’s research was published by Royal Society Open Science and can be viewed here.