One of the major problems we face when trying to observe deep-sea life with robots is that the clamps used to grip onto sea life are rigid and can be damaging. Harvard University researchers have developed a state-of-the-art clamping system for such underwater robots that is both soft and gentle.
These new clamps don't damage sea life when it goes to pick it up, but it maintains a firm grip, and it's perfect for grabbing onto delicate things such as coral.
There are two different kinds of grippers, including a snake-like grabber that twirls itself around long tubular objects, such as coral or planet stems, and a set of opposing finger-like actuators that can close on and grip an object like a hand would.
Both are soft to the touch and can grab delicate objects more safely than standard modern underwater sampling equipment can. Perhaps we're onto a game-changing era of seafloor exploration.