Join Andrew Schulz, PhD Candidate at Georgia Tech in Mechanical Engineering
Elephants are the largest terrestrial mammal in the world and their trunks have fascinated scientists since Darwin observed their behavior in 1871. Their trunks are made entirely of muscle a property like mammal tongues and octopi’s arms. Elephants have the precision to pick up a tortilla without breaking it but can also toss a lion away with ease. All this maneuverability and flexibility of the trunk is done without bones or joints, making elephant trunks an ideal source of biological inspiration for soft robotics. Soft robotics is an up-and-coming field of using soft materials to allow for flexible movement similar to that of the elephant trunk. However, African bush elephants in 2021 were moved from vulnerable to endangered for their conservation status with current estimates showing them extinct in the wild by 2038. Therefore, we must work towards conserving elephants and other species in tandem with other scientific discoveries so future generations can experience these animals and their important impacts their natural habitats.