Soft robots make use of pliable structures instead of hard forms like gears, pistons, and hinges.
(Video link) Engineers can now design flexible artificial creatures inspired by the octopus, earthworm, starfish, or jellyfish. Most prototypes move by means of air pumped into sectional chambers. Although the current soft robots are small and clumsy looking, tethered to their air supplies, they have a striking "alive" quality.
A new paper in Science magazine demonstrates how they can change color for camouflage or display. Other morphing blob-like bots can squeeze through narrow spaces.
Whether the soft forms are used alone or combined with hard forms for armor or skeleton, these breakthroughs suggest new possibilities for concept artists and mech designers who are trying to dream up organic-looking artificial beings.
Imagine creepy slug-bots, graceful gas-bag air floaters, or (ahem) sexy robots.
Image from Innovation News Daily
For other striking advances in robotics, check out:
Nano Quad Rotors