Thanks to the new tridimensional technology, scientists have uncovered the first ‘soft’ robot that is yet incredibly resistant due to its rigid core. By mixing soft and rigid components, researcher were able to create a new model of bots that are more appropriate for human-like activities.
Scientists at the University of California have introduced the tech community to a new robot prototype that is much more flexible than all the models that have been released before. Based on their declaration, the experiment first tested a rigid robot, but results have shown that the rough carcass of this prototype significantly lowered its endurance.
The small robot was programmed to jump, but the outer layer became severely damaged after only a few springs.
As a consequence, scientists replaced the hard model with a mixed one, involving a soft outer layer and a rigid core that protected circuits and components from possible impacts. When programmed to jump, the new prototype managed to perform up to 30 springs of approximately six times its own size.
In spite of the rough tests, the robot remained almost untouched at the end of the experiments, proving that a soft carcass is much more suitable for machineries.
The new prototype was entirely manufactured with the help of the tridimensional printing technology; therefore, its production costs are significantly low. The robot is made out a smaller top hemisphere containing rigid materials and a flexible round-shaped based, which is almost as soft as the human skin.
The bottom element has been provided with an oxygen and butane chamber, which releases the two gases before the robot starts jumping. The hemisphere at the base of the model becomes just as hard as a basketball propelling the robot into the air. Once the spring has been performed, the bot gets back to its initial shape and awaits for further commands.
Scientists at the University of California have been very pleased with their new finding, which was inserted in the pages of the journal Science. They believe many benefits could be drawn from the use of this new prototype in the future.
Since soft robots are much more resistant, they could be used in space missions, but also during war missions and calamities on Earth. They can, in fact carry out many of the activities that are too risky for humans. Their flexible outer shell increases their manageability, thus, making them more appropriate for both delicate and rough tasks.