The future of robots is here, and it’s soft.
A team from Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering has created a quadrupedal, soft robot — the first of its kind that doesn’t need to be tethered to a power source. The team describes their work in a paper published Sept. 1 in Soft Robotics.
The eerie bot is made from a composite silicone rubber embedded with hollow glass microspheres that reduce its weight, with Kevlar on the bottom to toughen it up. The result is an extremely resilient robot that can handle extreme conditions, like snow:
Fire (thanks to the heat- and flame-resistant properties of silicone rubber):
And the elastic body even survives being run over by a car, though exposed electronics probably wouldn’t fare as well:
Such a squishy, yet resilient robot has obvious applications in emergency rescue situations.
It’s also promising for industrial purposes, as soft robots would pose less of a danger to human workers than rigid machines.
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