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soft robotics

Harvard scientists use simple materials to create semi-soft machines that walk like insects.

Tissue-engineered soft robotic ray that’s controlled with light. Karaghen Hudson and Michael Rosnach, CC BY-ND

The way animals move has yet to be matched by robotic systems. This is because biological systems exploit compliant mechanisms in ways their robotic cousins do not. However, recent advances in soft robotics aim to address these issues.

Jamie Paik with a robot
Jamie Paik with a robot. Credit: NCCR Robotics

Meet the NCCR Robotics Paik Lab (RRL, EPFL) – headed by Professor Jamie Paik, the lab is dedicated to creating interactive robotic systems using cutting edge manufacturing techniques. The lab specialises in creating soft, foldable robots for use in a variety of situations, including creating compliant robotic assistive devices for people with disabilities.

by   -   April 18, 2017
A complex interplay of various sensor systems ensures that the SCHUNK Co-act Gripper JL1 permanently records the data of its surrounding. Source: Schunk

Tactile sensing and force feedback are – and have been – problem areas for robot grasping. Humans could see, select and pick so much faster. Yet to handle the millions of different everyday items in our factories and warehouses, costly positioning and camera systems have been required. These systems made it easy for fast robots with simple grippers to pick items as they came along – but at great cost.

by   -   March 31, 2017
Robot in assembly at Hall 52 on June 26, 2013. File: 062513GR34

There is growing demand for more flexibility in factories and shops. Collaborative robotics, a sub-set of service robotics in labs, manufacturing and material handling, is where the action is today because co-bots are meeting these new demands, while caged legacy robots are not.

by   -   March 21, 2017

A bio-inspired gel material developed at MIT could help engineers control movements of soft robots.

Cobalt Robotics has launched their stylish security robot. The robot was designed by Yves Behar and as a fabric covered robot, it’s putting a new spin on soft robotics! Behar’s goal was to create a robot that didn’t conform to Hollywood stereotypes but instead as an augmentation of human ability and an enhancement to the human environment.

by   -   February 2, 2017
“Hydrogels are soft, wet, biocompatible, and can form more friendly interfaces with human organs,” says Xuanhe Zhao, associate professor of mechanical engineering and civil and environmental engineering at MIT. Photo: Hyunwoo Yuk/MIT Soft Active Materials Lab

Engineers at MIT have fabricated transparent, gel-based robots that move when water is pumped in and out of them. The bots can perform a number of fast, forceful tasks, including kicking a ball underwater, and grabbing and releasing a live fish.

by   -   January 30, 2017

A Harvard team quantifies significant metabolic energy savings gained from its wearable gait-improving robot

by   -   November 9, 2016

Students of Delft University of Technology have developed a new add-on for a 3D printer that can cast silicones inside a 3D printed shell during the printing process. This new, and cheap, technique can be used to create new soft-robotic products that were previously impossible to make. The team presented their findings yesterday, at the science fair that marked the end of the minor Advanced Prototyping of the faculty Industrial Design Engineering.

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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.

Supersuit in the future? Source: Bigstockphoto
Supersuit in the future? Source: Bigstockphoto

Children with a rare neurological disease were recently given the chance to walk for the first time thanks to a new robotic exoskeleton. These devices – which are essentially robotic suits that give artificial movement to a user’s limbs – are set to become an increasingly common way of helping people who’ve lost the use of their legs to walk. But while today’s exoskeletons are mostly clumsy, heavy devices, new technology could make them much easier and more natural to use by creating a robotic skin.

International robotics collaboration aims to create artificial muscles.



ICRA 2017 Company Showcase
December 10, 2017


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