AI News, Self

Self-folding ‘Rollbot’ paves way for untethered soft robots

The majority of soft robots today rely on external power and control, keeping them tethered to off-board systems or rigged with hard components.

Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and Caltech have developed soft robotic systems, inspired by origami, that can move and change shape in response to external stimuli, paving the way for fully untethered soft robots.

“The ability to integrate active materials within 3D-printed objects enables the design and fabrication of entirely new classes of soft robotic matter,”

Using materials known as liquid crystal elastomers that change shape when exposed to heat, the research team 3D-printed two types of soft hinges that fold at different temperatures and thus can be programmed to fold in a specific order.

“With our method of 3D printing active hinges, we have full programmability over temperature response, the amount of torque the hinges can exert, their bending angle, and fold orientation.

Instead of having the entire body of a soft robot deform in ways that can be difficult to predict, you only need to program how a few small regions of your structure will respond to changes in temperature,”

These active hinges are useful because they allow soft robots to operate in environments where tethers are impractical and to lift objects many times heavier than the hinges,”

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