- The key challenge for creating soft machines that achieve their full potential is the development of controllable soft bodies using materials that integrate sensors, actuators and computation, and that together enable the body to deliver the desired behaviour.
- A robot is classified as hard or soft on the basis of the compliance of its underlying materials3 . Soft robots are capable of continuum deformations, but not all continuum robots are soft.
- A big challenge for soft robots is stretchable, portable power sources for actuation.
- So far, most integrated soft-robotic systems have relied on conventional, rigid electronics to store the control algorithms and connect to the systems’ actuators, sensors and power sources. However, there has recently been much research in the area of soft and stretchable electronics.
- Recent progress in the field of soft robotics has been enabled by the development of rapid digital design and fabrication tools. Researchers have manufactured complex soft-robotic systems by taking advantage of rapid and adaptable fabrication techniques66, including multimaterial 3D printing67, shape deposition manufacturing (SDM)68 and soft lithography69.
- Unlike the control of rigid bodies, the movements of which can be described by six degrees of freedom (three rotations and three translations about the x, y and z axes), the movements of soft bodies cannot be confined to planar motions.
- Because soft robots are different from conventional rigid linkage-based systems, researchers have developed new static, dynamic and kinematic models that capture their ability to bend and flex.
- The inverse-kinematics algorithm enables task–space planning algorithms to autonomously position their end effector (or some other part of their body) in free space; manoeuvre in confined environments; and grasp and place objects.
- The field of soft robotics aims to create the science and applications of soft autonomy by asking the questions: how do we design and control soft machines, and how do we use these new machines?
- The soft-robotics community is creating materials that have the ability to compute, sense and move, leading to a convergence between materials and machines.
Aerogel could be used for robot appendages. It is both soft and conductive so it can act as a sensor as well.
Metal-foam hybrid that changes shape based on heat. It can be hard or flexible depending on what the situation calls for.