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Soft Robotics

Robotics

Robots simultaneously 3D-printed from both solids and liquids

Robots have a tremendous potential, but if a way can't be found to manufacture them quickly, cheaply, and in large numbers, that potential may remain exactly that. To that end, MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) has come up with a new way to make soft, hydraulically-powered robots in one step using commercial 3D printers that can print solid and liquid parts simultaneously.Read More

Materials

Stretchy squid-inspired skin glows in different colors

Besides having tentacles, squid and octopi are also both known for their color-changing skin. Well, soft-bodied robots may soon also share that attribute, thanks to research being carried out at Cornell University. Led by assistant professor Rob Shepherd, a team of grad students there has developed an electroluminescent rubber "skin" that not only emits light in different colors, but that can also do so while being stretched to more than six times its original length.Read More

Robotics

Robots with "eyes" in their hands may prove more dextrous than others

When we think of robots, we all too often anthropomorphize them by giving them eyes in their heads, fingers on their hands, and toes on their feet. But just because this is the way humans evolved doesn’t make it ideal. Robots with eyes where they need them most, for example, could be much more efficient than just having them restricted to one place. In this vein, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) recently developed a tri-fingered robotic hand with numerous inbuilt optical detectors to act as adjunct sensors. At the same time, they also fashioned a new type of stretchable optical sensor to accompany such devices.Read More

Robotics

Building a real-life Baymax

The recent animated feature Big Hero 6 is more than a collection of comic book fantasies – there's some hard science behind the soft robots. Baymax, the inflatable robot designed to care for humans who stars in the film may seem as unlikely as a chocolate teapot, but Chris Atkeson, professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon is working on a real life version (minus the karate and flying armor). Gizmag caught up with Atkeson to discuss the project.Read More

Electronics

Skin-applied foil could give people a sense of "magnetoception"

How would you like to be able to sense magnetic fields? It could come in handy, given that some animals navigate and maintain their spatial orientation by doing so. Well, we've now come one step closer to humans having that ability, too. Scientists from Germany's Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research, along with colleagues from the University of Tokyo and Osaka University, have developed a thin, flexible magnetoresistive sensory foil that can be applied to a person's own natural skin. Read More

Robotics

Soft robotics "toolkit" features everything a robot-maker needs

Harvard University labs, working in collaboration with Trinity College Dublin, are offering a comprehensive online toolkit to help in the design, creation, and control of soft robots made from flexible materials. Aimed at skilled and novice researchers alike, the Soft Robotics Toolkit provides a veritable cornucopia of downloadable, open-source plans, step-by-step tutorial videos, and real world studies for users to apply to their own soft robot project.Read More

Robotics

MIT demonstrates slithering rubber robot

Once upon a time, robots were imagined as human-like machines with a distinct body complete with head, arms, hands, feet, and legs. More recently, designers have explored the benefits of emulating other creatures and their capabilities, with robots that can fly like birds, run like cheetahs, swim like a squids or, in this case, slither like snakes. Researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) have come up with a single 3D printed, soft-shelled tentacle that is designed to navigate through all manner of pipes, channels, and burrows.Read More

Robotics

Phase-change material could let robots be soft or hard-bodied as needed

If you've ever watched an octopus, you may have noticed how they can deliver powerful grasping force when necessary, yet can also squeeze through tiny openings by essentially making themselves "liquid." Now imagine if there were robots that could do the same thing. They could conceivably squirm through debris to reach buried survivors at disaster sites, or even travel through patients' bodies to perform medical procedures. An international team of scientists is working on making such technology a reality, using a combination of polyurethane foam and wax. Read More

Robotics

Soft-bodied robofish pulls off sharp turns like the real thing

Anyone who has ever tried to grab a minnow out of the water knows that it's almost impossible. Not only can they swim forward very quickly, but they can also make near-instantaneous right-angle turns, unpredictably shooting off to one side or the other in mere milliseconds. Now, scientists at MIT have replicated that capability in a soft-bodied robotic fish. Read More

Robotics

Electrically-charged hydrogel has applications for soft robotics and biomedical fields

Soft robotics is a quickly emerging field that takes a lot of inspiration from marine creatures like squids and starfish. A light-controlled hydrogel was recently developed that could be used for control of these new robotic devices, but now researchers at North Carolina State University are taking the development of soft robotic devices to a new level with electrically-charged hydrogels.Read More

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