Festo have been working on some 21st century production robot arms, inspired by nature. Specifically elephant trunks, and fish tail fins. Festo have additional information, videos, and photos of the unit here on their website, and you can watch the video below here on PBS Learning Media where David Pogue gets a unique look at the labs working on this new tech.
Learn how one company took inspiration from nature to reinvent the robotic arm in this video excerpted from NOVA: “Making Stuff Wilder.” Host and technology columnist David Pogue meets with engineer Heinrich Frontzek to find out about the Bionic Handling Assistant—a machine modeled after an elephant’s trunk. A traditional robotic arm is rigid and unable to work closely with humans, but this new design is more flexible and less dangerous. The company has also developed a new kind of adaptive gripper, inspired by fish fins, that is flexible and able to securely grasp even fragile objects, like eggs.
Source: Adafruit – Robotics