Because [rigid robots] are built of rigid links and joints, they are unsafe for interaction with humans.
[soft robots] have the potential to exhibit unprecedented adaptation, sensitivity and agility.
(confined spaces, agile maneuvers, adapt shape to the environment)
We define soft robots…that are primarily composed of materials with moduli in the range of that of soft biological materials.
The tight coupling between body and brain allow us to think about soft bodied systems as machines with mechanical intelligence, in which the body can be viewed as augmenting the brain with morphological computation.
Asymmetric strain on two materials can drive actuation.
(pneumatic networks, variable length tendons embedded in soft segments)
Pneumatic networks–high strains required for actuation can lead to slow actuation rates and rupture failures.
(soft and stretchable electronics)
What has been missing for fluidic systems is the equivalent of a battery, whereby a chemical reaction generates the necessary energy for actuation using a fuel.
The movements of soft bodies cannot be confined to planar motions.
In theory, the final shape of the robot can be described by a continuous function -> continuous mathematics.
Autonomous obstacle avoidance and movement through a confined environment are difficult without a computation solution to the inverse kinematics problem that is aware of the whole body of the robot in space.
Studies of caterpillars have led to soft robotics systems.
…microbes that digest organic material and produce electricity have powered artifical muscles for autonomous robots.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SgDlWyCeAM Here is a compliant hand on a traditonal (submersible ) robot, for grabbing delicate stuff.
Another demonstration of this kind of thing (soft gripper) here:
Here are some flyers!