What is Soft Robotics? What are the Unique Features of Soft Robots?

The researcher makes way for the next-gen of soft robot design

Soft robotics

Soft robotics

According to the latest research, the global soft robotics market is likely to reach 3.41 billion by 2027. In present-day soft robotics is making way for safer, more flexible applications in the fields especially like healthcare where it can be used in surgical procedures, and while coming to industrial applications, the soft robots can work safely along with the workers. Let’s learn more about soft robotics and robots in this article. 

 

What is Soft Robotics? 

Soft robotics is a specialized subfield of robotics that deals with the construction of robots from highly compliant materials that mimic living organisms. These kinds of robotics are drawn from the way by which living organisms move and adapt to their surroundings. 

These soft robots are made of flexible and soft materials that allow its body to twist, deform, move and bend and adapt to shapes that traditional hard robots cannot. Soft robotics design robots with nanomaterials enabling them to approximate biological functions such as that of a human muscle. 

When researchers were thriving for a quicker and safer way to help survivors, they decided to make soft robots. Taking the example of one such researcher, Isuru Godage, assistant professor in DePaul Univeristy’s College of Computing and Digital Media is working with the same purpose. His solution involves setting up dozens of transformable, soft robotics into any opening that is found around the perimeter of a collapsed building. 

 

What is a Soft Approach? 

Most of the robots used in the present scenario are either pre-programmed or humanoid robots or augmenting robots, or teleoperated robots. These robots have limitations of having a fixed configuration that cannot be altered once assembled and the other is that they can be reconfigured for a variety of circumstances made up of pneumatics. 

To overcome limitations, Godage says that instead of these running a robot on electro mechanical design can allow it to be portable and tetherless. Godage adds that with the help of sensors these soft robotics can be autonomous in deciding what to do. 

For this design, Godage takes inspiration from an animal’s tail that is made of an endoskeleton made up of muscles that can help in bending and performing tasks like swinging from a tree. “We would like for this robot to have a rigid skeleton on the inside but the outside is made of soft materials such as silicone and rubber that can bend without buckling or crushing the internal components,” Godage said. 

His research grant surrounds ways to exploit the hard and soft component interaction and constrained arrangement to control stiffness from bending. The project focuses on developing a unified design and optimization framework to hand, soft models, and sensor placement. Godage lastly says that he has plans to put his robots in service in planetary exploration or intelligence gathering. 

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