Creating Soft Metallic Material to Develop Flexible and Foldable Robots

A team of researchers has created a soft metallic material for developing flexible robots. An assistant professor and a doctoral student from NUS, along with a research team, developed the new material. Professor Che Pon-Yen and Yang Haitao have reached an important landmark in the domain of robotic technology. The flexible and soft robots developed by the researchers find use in multiple applications. Some of the common applications include drug delivery in humans, rescue missions during calamities, and human prosthetic arms.

 Overcoming the Limitations of Origami Robots

 Meanwhile, making of conventional ‘Origami Robots’ involve use of plastic, paper, and rubber. This adds premium flexibility to the robots that can function in constrained environments. The electrical components and sensors are mounted over the robot, but they add to its size and bulk. Hence, there is a need for flexible robots that are made entirely from metallic materials. The method conceptualized at NUS does exactly that. The research team has developed metal-based materials that can facilitate the development of soft, agile, and nimble robots.

 Research Methodology

 The researchers combined premium metals such as platinum with ash to develop a new material with increased fold ability. Furthermore, the light weight of the material helped the researchers in developing high-flexibility robots. The new material weighs half as much as paper, making it more efficient in power. The medical fraternity can benefit from the development of these light-weighted robots. The robots find use to create flexible, foldable, and light prosthetic limbs. Besides, the sensor technology used in these robots creates new opportunities for research and development. Strain sensing features can be enabled in prosthetics arms developed using the new material. It would be interesting to evaluate the applicability of these robots in other domains.