In the field of robotics, soft robots have emerged as the new kids on the block. The unique capabilities of these automata are to squeeze, twist, bend, stretch, and deform in all the ways that conventional rigid robots cannot.
These Robots Sync with Human Environment
Today, it is quite easy to envision a world in which robots and humans collaborate with each other, in close proximity, in many of the realms. Emerging soft robots might be of help to ensure that this can be done successfully and safely, and in such a way that syncs with human environments or even interfaces with humans themselves.
Professor Yon Visell from the department of University of California Santa Barbara electrical and computer engineering department, said that a few of the benefits of soft robotic systems are that they can easily adapt to the unstructured environments, or to soft or irregular surfaces, such as the human body.
Irrespective of their promise, to date, most of the soft robots move clumsily and slowly as compared to many other conventional robots. However, the gap is narrowing owing to the new developments in the fundamental unit of robotic motion which is the actuator. Responsible for the mechanical movement of a machine or mechanism, actuators do their work in many different ways, relying on pneumatic, piezoelectric, electromagnetic, or other forces.
Now, Visell and his collaborators from University of California, Santa Barbara have married the electromagnetic drives utilized in most of the conventional robotic systems with soft materials, in a bid to achieve both softness and speed.
The research article has appeared on the cover of Advanced Functional Materials, journal.