Top 10 sci-tech breakthroughs of China in 2021

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# Self-powered soft robot explores Mariana Trench

An illustration of the self-powered deep-sea soft robot built for use in the Mariana Trench. (Photo/Official website of the Zhejiang Lab)

A study published in the journal Nature in March 2021 showed that Chinese researchers had developed the world's first soft robot that can operate in the Mariana Trench, which is the deepest part of the ocean at over 10,000 meters below the water's surface.

Taking inspiration from snailfish, researchers from Zhejiang University and Zhejiang Lab developed the untethered soft robot for deep-sea exploration, with onboard power, control and actuation protected from pressure by integrating electronics in a silicone matrix. 

The research has greatly reduced the cost of deep-sea robots and promoted the application of soft robots in deep-sea engineering.

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