- In contrast to hard-bodied robots, soft robots have bodies made out of intrinsically soft and/or extensible materials (for example, silicone rubbers) that can deform and absorb much of the energy arising from a collision.
- Soft robots promise to be able to bend and twist with high curvatures and thus can be used in confined spaces; to deform their bodies in a continuous way and thus achieve motions that emulate biology; to adapt their shape to the environment, employing compliant motion and thus manipulate objects, or move on rough terrain and exhibit resilience; or to execute rapid, agile manoeuvres, such as the escape manoeuvre in fish.
- The advantages of using materials with compliance similar to that of soft biological materials include a considerable reduction in the harm that could be inadvertently caused by robotic systems (as has been demonstrated for rigid robots with compliant joints), increasing their potential for interaction with humans.
- A soft robot encases in a soft body all the subsystems of a conventional robot: an actuation system, a perception system, driving electronics and a computation system, with corresponding power sources.
- Soft-lithography fabrication approaches typically use a layer of stiffer rubber or elastomer, some- times with paper, fabric or a plastic film embedded, to achieve asymmetric strain for actuation.
- Instead of designing the stiffness of robotic systems by tuning their constituent materials, another line of soft-robotics research has sought to control material stiffness on the fly. One approach is to embed or encase soft materials with stiffer materials such as wax or metal, which can be thermally softened.
- A full discussion of this area is beyond the scope of this Review, but, as this field of electronics matures, we expect greater integration with soft robots, resulting in completely soft prototypes.
- To address the fabrication challenges involved in injecting complex channel networks with liquid conductor, recent work has investigated mask deposition of the conductor, or direct 3D printing of conductive material.
- A big challenge for soft robots is stretchable, portable power sources for actuation. … Current off-the-shelf pressure sources are generally limited to compressors or pumps, and compressed air cylinders.
- Soft-robot designs have been automatically generated using custom finite element analysis software (VoxCAD), which accommodates materials with a large range of moduli, coupled with design optimization using an evolutionary algorithm.
- Researchers have manufactured complex soft-robotic systems by taking advantage of rapid and adaptable fabrication techniques, including multimaterial 3D printing, shape deposition manufacturing (SDM) and soft lithography.
- A limitation of existing approaches to solving the inverse-kinematics problem for linear soft bodies (for example, arms) is that currently neither the whole body, nor the pose of the end effector (which may be important for manipulation, sensing, and so on), are not considered in the solution.
- Compliance allows the robot to adapt its shape and function to objects of unknown or uncertain geometry and is the basis for new control and planning algorithms for soft robots in the presence of uncertainly.
- One approach to achieving mobile systems is to tether a soft robot to a mobile rigid robot with a greater carrying capacity. .. Another approach has led to materials and designs tailored to operate at working pressures that are high enough to carry large payloads.
- Soft robots have the potential to provide a link between living systems and artificial systems at multiple levels: high-level tasks, in interactions between humans and robots, and in cognition.
Link to paper about “Autonomous Soft Robotic Fish Capable of Escape Maneuvers Using Fluidic Elastomer Actuators” . The one we read in the Nature paper http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdf/10.1089/soro.2013.0009
Instructions of how to make an air powered soft robotic gripper.