For the octobot seen above, a webbed membrane is key for speedy undersea movement. The webbing (which mimics similar anatomy on the common octopus) turns those eight little tentacles into one water-pushing machine, propelling it nearly twice as fast -- at around seven inches a second.

Researchers say that the octobot, which was presented at the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems on Sept. 15, is lifelike enough not to frighten away marine life.

It's true that these clever little bots might be a good tool for exploring reefs and shorelines, but personally I'm more excited for the day they trickle down into the pool toy market.