Artificial Skin for Robots

If a robot is dealing with electronics, it needs to know whether its hand is sliding along a wire or pulling on it. If the robot needs to hold a medical instrument, it needs to know if the object is slipping or in a firm grip.

Carnegie Mellon Research - Invisible, Stretchable Circuits

The mission of my lab is to discover new types of materials that will allow machines, robots, and electronics to be more compatible with our everyday environment.

Soft, Self-healing Devices Mimic Biological Muscles, Point to Next Generation of Human-like Robotics

The soft devices can perform a variety of tasks, including grasping delicate objects such as a raspberry and a raw egg, as well as lifting heavy objects. HASEL actuators exceed or match the strength, speed and efficiency of biological muscle.

New technique eases production, customization of soft robotics

Scott Schrage, University of Nebraska-Lincoln via Phys.org: The technique, which creates a stronger chemical bond between silicone and an unprecedented array of plastics, could greatly reduce the time, complexity and expense needed to produce the microfluidic devices.

Soft robot muscles with origami skeletons can lift 1,000 times their own weight

James Vincent for The Verge: Each muscle consists of a sealed bag filled with air or fluid, containing a folding origami structure that functions as the skeleton.

Engineers teach robots to understand emotion through touch

Duncan Geere for Tech Radar: Now researchers from Universit© Paris-Saclay are attempting to bestow the same benefits onto robots. Adriana Tapus and her colleagues are aiming to develop a humanoid robot that's sensitive to tactile stimulation in the same way people are.

Teaching Robots to 'Feel with Their Eyes'

Penn's School of Engineering and Applied Science: Burka hopes to build up a database of one thousand surfaces to help coach robots on how to identify objects and also to know what they're made of and how best to handle them.

Meet the Robotics Wiz Behind Old Spice's Giant Mechanical Sea Creature

David Gianatasio for AdWeek: Unless you've been lost at sea, you've probably heard about the giant robotic squid that Old Spice deployed last weekend for a wacky, high-profile internet game on Twitch.

MIT Builds Invisible Fish Grabbing Robot

Matthew Humphries for PCMag:  Catching a fish can be tough, even if you are just trying to net a goldfish in a small tank. That's because the fish spots the danger and makes a swim for it. But what if you didn't need a net because you're controlling an invisible grabbing robot? That's what Xuanhe Zhao, a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT succeeded in creating, but its applications go way beyond catching and releasing fish unharmed. The robot is constructed of a transparent hydrogel, which is strong and durable but mostly made of water. As the video below explains, each arm of the robot is constructed from 3D-printed hollow cubes of hydrogel, which are then linked together. By injecting water using a syringe it's possible to make the arms curl and uncurl quickly in a grabbing motion.   Cont'd...

Engineers Devise New Method to Heighten Senses of Soft Robot

Written by AZoRobotics:  Most robots achieve grasping and tactile sensing through motorized means, which can be excessively bulky and rigid. A Cornell group has devised a way for a soft robot to feel its surroundings internally, in much the same way humans do. A group led by Robert Shepherd, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and principal investigator of Organic Robotics Lab, has published a paper describing how stretchable optical waveguides act as curvature, elongation and force sensors in a soft robotic hand. Doctoral student Huichan Zhao is lead author of “Optoelectronically Innervated Soft Prosthetic Hand via Stretchable Optical Waveguides,” which is featured in the debut edition of Science Robotics. The paper published Dec. 6; also contributing were doctoral students Kevin O’Brien and Shuo Li, both of Shepherd’s lab.   Cont'd.. .

The First Autonomous, Entirely Soft Robot

From Leah Burrows and Harvard:   A team of Harvard University researchers with expertise in 3-D printing, mechanical engineering, and microfluidics has demonstrated the first autonomous, untethered, entirely soft robot. This small, 3-D-printed robot — nicknamed the “octobot” — could pave the way for a new generation of such machines... ...Through our hybrid assembly approach, we were able to 3-D print each of the functional components required within the soft robot body, including the fuel storage, power, and actuation, in a rapid manner,” said Lewis. “The octobot is a simple embodiment designed to demonstrate our integrated design and additive fabrication strategy for embedding autonomous functionality.”... (full article)  

See what this squishy octopus-inspired robot can do

The latest revolutionary robot isn’t the metallic, costly machine you’d expect: It’s squishy like Silly Putty, wireless, battery-less and made for pennies by a 3D printer. Meet Octobot. It looks like a tiny octopus and is designed to mimic that slithery creature to get through cracks and tight places, making it ideal as a rescue robot. A team at Harvard University has created a robot - actually about 300 of them, since they are so cheap to make - that is opposite of the common view of a robot. Soft, not hard. Flexibl,e not rigid. It’s not mechanical, nor electrical. It’s powered by fluids. The discovery is described, photographed and shown on video in the scientific journal Nature.   Cont'd...

Robot Octopus Points the Way to Soft Robotics With Eight Wiggly Arms

Cecilia Laschi for IEEE Spectrum:  The sun was sparkling on the Mediterranean Sea on the afternoon when a graduate student from my lab tossed our prize robot into the water for the first time. I watched nervously as our electronic creation sank beneath the waves. But the bot didn’t falter: When we gave it the command to swim, it filled its expandable mantle with water, then jetted out the fluid to shoot forward. When we ordered it to crawl, it stiffened its eight floppy arms in sequence to push itself along the sandy bottom and over scattered rocks. And when we instructed it to explore a tight space beneath the dock, the robot inserted its soft body into the narrow gap without difficulty. As a professor at the BioRobotics Institute at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, in Pisa, Italy, I lead a team investigating soft robotics. This relatively new field of research has the potential to upend our ideas about what robots are capable of and where they can be useful. I chose to build robots that mimic the form of the octopus for two reasons. First, because they’re well suited to demonstrate the many advantages that come when a machine can flex and squish as needed. Also, it’s an excellent engineering challenge: An octopus with eight wiggly arms, which must work together in the face of complex hydrodynamic forces, is very difficult to design and control.   Cont'd...

Artificial muscle for soft robotics: Low voltage, high hopes

Phys.org:  Soft robots do a lot of things well but they're not exactly known for their speed. The artificial muscles that move soft robots, called actuators, tend to rely on hydraulics or pneumatics, which are slow to respond and difficult to store. Dielectric elastomers, soft materials that have good insulating properties, could offer an alternative to pneumatic actuators but they currently require complex and inefficient circuitry to deliver high voltage as well as rigid components to maintain their form—both of which defeat the purpose of a soft robot. Now, researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a dielectric elastomer with a broad range of motion that requires relatively low voltage and no rigid components. They published their work recently in Advanced Materials.   Cont'd...

'Squishy' Motors and Wheels Give Soft Robots a New Ride

Rutgers engineers, in a breakthrough, create a soft motor that could power versatile soft robots

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