The latest robot offering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology is an eel-inspired gel device that can perform fast, forceful tasks underwater.

These robots have claws made from a clear, membranous substance that allow them to catch live fish. Their limbs are made from hydrogel, which is a highly stretchable material.

Researchers were able to figure out a way for the robot to grab a fish without harming it. You see, a more traditional robotic hand would have destroyed the poor fish in normal circumstances.

And this is important because...?

To be honest, no one quite knows yet. But there are possibilities.

Explains the team’s lead researcher Xuanhe Zhao, “We are actively collaborating with medical groups to translate this system into soft manipulators such as hydrogel ‘hands,’ which could potentially apply more gentle manipulations to tissues and organs in surgical operations.”