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robohub focus on soft robotics

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A group from Floreano Lab, EPFL and NCCR Robotics has today published their novel variable stiffness fibre with self-healing capability.

Soft “hardware” components are becoming more and more popular solutions within the field of robotics. In fact softness, compliance and foldability bring significant advantages to devices by allowing conformability and safe interactions with users, objects and unstructured environments. However for some applications, the softness of components adversely reduces the range of forces those devices can apply or sustain. An optimal solution would be having components able to vary their softness according to the needed task.

by   -   August 25, 2016

Powered by a chemical reaction controlled by microfluidics, 3D-printed ‘octobot’ has no electronics.

Caterpillar micro-robot sitting on a finger tip. Credit: Source: FUW
Caterpillar micro-robot sitting on a finger tip.
Credit: Source: FUW

Researchers at the Faculty of Physics at the University of Warsaw, using the liquid crystal elastomer technology, originally developed in the LENS Institute in Florence, demonstrated a bioinspired micro-robot capable of mimicking caterpillar gaits in natural scale. The 15-millimeter long soft robot harvests energy from green light and is controlled by spatially modulated laser beam. Apart from travelling on flat surfaces, it can also climb slopes, squeeze through narrow slits and transport loads.

International robotics collaboration aims to create artificial muscles.


As soft robotics increases in both scope and popularity, it is becoming more and more vital that each element of the electrical circuits contained within are also soft and elastic and able to continue to function reliably when in stressed or pressurised positions.

by   -   October 2, 2015
Team's silicone rubber gripper can pick up egg, CD & paper, and identify objects by touch alone
Team’s silicone rubber gripper can pick up egg, CD & paper, and identify objects by touch alone

By Adam Conner-Simons, MIT CSAIL

Robots have many strong suits, but delicacy traditionally hasn’t been one of them. Rigid limbs and digits make it difficult for them to grasp, hold, and manipulate a range of everyday objects without dropping or crushing them.

Recently, CSAIL researchers have discovered that the solution may be to turn to a substance more commonly associated with new buildings and Silly Putty: silicone.

 The Jaeger-Lipson coffee balloon gripper. Its soft end effector adapts itself to the object it grasps. Source: John Amend
The Jaeger-Lipson coffee balloon gripper. Its soft end effector adapts itself to the object it grasps. Source: John Amend

Soft robots are versatile, often much safer, more energy-efficient, robust and resilient than their more rigid counterparts. But one of the biggest challenges facing soft robotics is control – often, classical approaches don’t apply. The answer may lie in morphological computation, an idea that stems from biological systems using their bodies to control basic actions.

Today, building envelopes tend to be static and unable to adapt to changing conditions. Now, for the first time, an adaptable façade has been used for the newly inaugurated House of Natural Resources (HoNR) that produces electricity and regulates light and heat generation.

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The Soft Robotics Toolkit recently announced two competitions for robotics research and design. In July 2015, two expert panels will award prizes to soft robotics projects submitted by students, researchers, and designers. The first competition focuses on research contributions in the area of soft robotics, while the second awards novel designs that make use of soft components.

by   -   April 28, 2015
Baymax, Chris Atkeson and Hiro from Disney's Big Hero 6. Source: Chris Atkeson
Baymax, Chris Atkeson and Hiro from Disney’s Big Hero 6. Source: Chris Atkeson

Baymax, the lovable, inflatable robot star of Disney’s recent hit, Big Hero 6, is far from a movie fantasy. With their soft cushiony bodies, robots like Baymax have very real prospects as future care-givers, space-travellers and more. Robohub’s Helmut Hauser spoke to the man who inspired Baymax – Chris Atkeson, Professor of Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University – about the hard science behind soft robotics.

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Every April, National Robotics Week fuels a heightened awareness around robotics, its impact on society, and its growing importance in a wide variety of fields and applications. Robotics, however, never seems to achieve its hyped potential from its beginnings in industrial applications, when the benefits of fast, precise, repetitive manipulation in manufacturing were a significant driver for adoption of early robotics solutions. While robot arms in manufacturing debuted the benefits of robotics technology to industry, the robot arms were put in cages and they largely stayed in those environments.

interview by   -   April 17, 2015
image: Soft Robotics Toolkit
image: Soft Robotics Toolkit

In this podcast, Ron Vanderkley speaks to Donal Holland of Harvard University about his team’s work on the Soft Robotics Toolkit.

Sensory-Motor Tissues for Soft Robots
Sensory-Motor Tissues for Soft Robots

In this video, PhD student at LIS, EPFL and NCCR Robotics Jun Shintake explains his project “Sensory-Motor tissues for Soft Robots”.

by   -   December 18, 2014

Soft robotics is finally leaving the research lab and entering the real world.   One of the companies leading the way is a Boston-based startup that is commercializing the innovations of the Whitesides Research Group at Harvard. I’m talking today with Soft Robotics CEO Carl Vause. Full transcript below.

A new foldable actuator has been successfully used to fly a MAV.
A new foldable actuator has been successfully used to fly a MAV.

Traditionally, many key robot components (including sensors and actuators) are rigid, and this makes it difficult for researchers and industry to make them truly compliant with their surroundings. It’s with this problem in mind that a team from NCCR Robotics in the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems and the Microsystems for Space Technologies Laboratory both at EPFL in Switzerland have developed a new soft actuator that enables robots to fold.



Midwest Speech and Language Days 2017 Posters
July 8, 2017


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