Harvard scientists create a new generation of soft robots

Soft robots can be the future of robotics,however, right now they have a number of flaws in their overall design. For example, the capabilities of such machines are limited due to the need for wire control. In other words, they need to be connected to external devices, tubes and hoses, through which compressed air is supplied and controlled. This may limit their functionality, for example, when used in space missions, search and rescue operations and other areas.

Soft robotics

A group of specialists from Harvard Universityspoke about the first step in developing a new generation of soft robots. They developed a method that allows you to abandon numerous wires and hoses and replace all this with a single, single inlet for the supply of compressed air. This not only seriously simplifies the design of the machine, but also makes it much easier. Breeds about their development are published in the journal Soft Robotics.

"Before this study, we could not createsoft robots without independent management of each separate executive part through separate channels and lines of supply of compressed air. Thanks to our development, soft robots can become much more functional, but at the same time easier in terms of control, ”comments the main author of the Soft Robotics article, Nikolaos Vasios from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

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To simplify the design of the soft robot, theyused the specifics of the phenomenon of fluid viscosity, which is a measure of fluidity. Imagine the water that needs to go through a hollow straw. The thinner this straw, the more difficult it is for the water to pass through it. Harvard robotics under the guidance of Kati Bertoldi used the same principle, but with air. For this they used tubes of various lengths and diameters. A single inlet feeds air to the legs of the robot through tubes, which allows you to settle further actions of the machine. Each team has a unique “speed and volume of air flow” with its own set of tubes, due to which it is no longer necessary to carry out very complex calculations for supplying the required air pressure.

The developers said that the test bot hasview of a simple four-legged cross-shaped object. Harvard robotics continue to improve it, since the external air source for the device has not yet been created. According to experts, this is a unique technological discovery. The simplicity and small size of the parts can make the robot practical for all types of tasks.

“We first applied the fluid viscosity phenomenon in soft robots. Due to this, their design can become simpler, and management easier, ”says Bertoldi.

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