The researchers have managed to develop an actuator that allows soft robots to move and jump faster, taking advantage of their elastic constraints. The acceleration of soft robots can enable this technology to be used in more areas.
Soft robots have enormous potential for a wide range of applications, from surgical instruments to mechanical exoskeletons and underwater research. However, today, the applications and soft skills of soft robots are quite limited especially at the speed point.
Fluid soft robots tend to be slow when moving because they need a lot of fluid to work. Fluid flow is restricted by the tubes and valves in the device and the robots are prevented from being agile. However, researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Wyss Biological Engineering Institute managed to make a fast-acting, inflatable soft actuator.
Scientists have developed an actuator that will make soft robots faster
In their study, scientists took advantage of their elastic instability to overcome the limitations faced by soft robots, allowing them to separate the slow input from the output and made a fast bouncing, fluid, soft actuator.
Katia Bertoldi, lead author of the study and Professor of Applied Mechanics at SEAS, said: “The actuator is a building block that can be integrated into a completely soft robotic system to achieve soft robots that can walk, jump and swim. ” said.
Video of the inflatable actuator developed by the researchers:
The researchers also shared the experimental video of the three actuator designs. By adjusting the pressure-volume relationship of the actuator with the help of vacuum, an actuator has been developed that can release the energy required to jump, as seen in design C.