Sunday, September 2, 2012

Soft Robots

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.

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:
Big Dog
Nano Quad Rotors


Lee Jerrett said...

I've often imagined that if one were to design a humanoid robot that perfectly mimics the external appearance of a human... or any animal, you would probably end up having to pretty much mimic most the internal anatomy too, just to get the motion looking right. I'm a little disappointed when designers take the lazy way out and give their fictional robots the old 'toaster with a silicon mask'setup, hopefully the concept of soft robotics will catch on.

Rich said...

Looks like a precursor of some cybernetic (r)evolution to come; creepy thing that is. Looks pretty convulsive to me.

K_tigress said...

Eawwwww. Just imagine that thing crawling out from under your bed and its mission is something sinister.

That could be the making of a creepy scifi movie.