AI News, Self

Self-folding 'Rollbot' paves the way for fully untethered soft robots

'The ability to integrate active materials within 3-D-printed objects enables the design and fabrication of entirely new classes of soft robotic matter,' said Jennifer A.

Using materials known as liquid crystal elastomers that change shape when exposed to heat, the research team 3-D-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 3-D 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,' said Connor McMahan, a graduate student at Caltech and co-first author of the paper.

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,' said McMahan.

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