AI News, Transparent, gel-based robots can catch and release live fish

Transparent, gel-based robots can catch and release live fish

The team fashioned several hydrogel robots, including a finlike structure that flaps back and forth, an articulated appendage that makes kicking motions, and a soft, hand-shaped robot that can squeeze and relax.

The group, led by Xuanhe Zhao, associate professor of mechanical engineering and civil and environmental engineering at MIT, and graduate student Hyunwoo Yuk, is currently looking to adapt hydrogel robots for medical applications.

“We are actively collaborating with medical groups to translate this system into soft manipulators such as hydrogel ‘hands,’ which could potentially apply more gentle manipulations to tissues and organs in surgical operations.” Zhao and Yuk have published their results this week in the journal Nature Communications.

Robot recipe For the past five years, Zhao’s group has been developing “recipes” for hydrogels, mixing solutions of polymers and water, and using techniques they invented to fabricate tough yet highly stretchable materials.

They concentrated in particular on leptocephali, or glass eels — tiny, transparent, hydrogel-like eel larvae that hatch in the ocean and eventually migrate to their natural river habitats.

And we wanted to achieve a similar level of transparency, force, and speed.” To do so, Yuk and Zhao used 3-D printing and laser cutting techniques to print their hydrogel recipes into robotic structures and other hollow units, which they bonded to small, rubbery tubes that are connected to external pumps.

To actuate, or move, the structures, the team used syringe pumps to inject water through the hollow structures, enabling them to quickly curl or stretch, depending on the overall configuration of the robots.

For perspective, other researchers have activated similar hydrogel robots by simple osmosis, letting water naturally seep into structures — a slow process that creates millinewton forces over several minutes or hours.

The group measured the acoustic and optical properties of the hydrogel robots, and found them to be nearly equal to that of water, unlike rubber and other commonly used materials in soft robotics.

Transparent, gel-based robots can catch and release live fish

The team fashioned several hydrogel robots, including a finlike structure that flaps back and forth, an articulated appendage that makes kicking motions, and a soft, hand-shaped robot that can squeeze and relax.

The group, led by Xuanhe Zhao, associate professor of mechanical engineering and civil and environmental engineering at MIT, and graduate student Hyunwoo Yuk, is currently looking to adapt hydrogel robots for medical applications.

“We are actively collaborating with medical groups to translate this system into soft manipulators such as hydrogel ‘hands,’ which could potentially apply more gentle manipulations to tissues and organs in surgical operations.” Zhao and Yuk have published their results this week in the journal Nature Communications.

Robot recipe For the past five years, Zhao’s group has been developing “recipes” for hydrogels, mixing solutions of polymers and water, and using techniques they invented to fabricate tough yet highly stretchable materials.

They concentrated in particular on leptocephali, or glass eels — tiny, transparent, hydrogel-like eel larvae that hatch in the ocean and eventually migrate to their natural river habitats.

And we wanted to achieve a similar level of transparency, force, and speed.” To do so, Yuk and Zhao used 3-D printing and laser cutting techniques to print their hydrogel recipes into robotic structures and other hollow units, which they bonded to small, rubbery tubes that are connected to external pumps.

To actuate, or move, the structures, the team used syringe pumps to inject water through the hollow structures, enabling them to quickly curl or stretch, depending on the overall configuration of the robots.

For perspective, other researchers have activated similar hydrogel robots by simple osmosis, letting water naturally seep into structures — a slow process that creates millinewton forces over several minutes or hours.

The group measured the acoustic and optical properties of the hydrogel robots, and found them to be nearly equal to that of water, unlike rubber and other commonly used materials in soft robotics.

Scientists Invent Robot Made Almost Entirely of Water

A newly created robot may soon be hitting your local lake and catching a haul of trout, bass or pike.

The research team—led by Xuanhe Zhao, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and civil and environmental engineering at MIT and graduate student Hyunwoo Yuk—designed several hydrogel robots, including a finlike structure that flabs back and forth, an articulated appendage that makes kicking motions, and a soft, hand-shaped robot that can squeeze and relax.

They developed a way to glue the hydrogels to various surfaces, including glass, metal, ceramic and rubber, creating extremely strong bonds that resist peeling, making the durable, flexible and strongly bondable material ideal for use in soft robotics.

And we wanted to achieve a similar level of transparency, force, and speed.” The researchers used 3D printing and laser cutting techniques to print the hydrogel recipes into the robotic structures and other hollow units, which they bonded to small, rubbery tubes that are connected to external pumps.

“We are actively collaborating with medical groups to translate this system into soft manipulators such as hydrogel 'hands,' which could potentially apply more gentle manipulations to tissues and organs in surgical operations.” Hydrogels are also naturally safer to use in biomedicals because they are mostly comprised of water.

Researchers Create ‘Soft Robotic’ Devices Using Water-Based Gels

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new technique for creating devices out of a water-based hydrogel material that can be patterned, folded and used to manipulate objects.

“This work brings us one step closer to developing new soft robotics technologies that mimic biological systems and can work in aqueous environments,” says Dr. Michael Dickey, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the work.

“In the nearer term, the technique may have applications for drug delivery or tissue scaffolding and directing cell growth in three dimensions, for example,” says Dr. Orlin Velev, INVISTA Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at NC State, the second senior author of the paper.

“And the more copper ions we inject into the hydrogel by flowing current through the electrodes, the further it bends.” The researchers were able to take advantage of the increased stiffness and bending behavior in patterned sections to make the hydrogel manipulate objects.

Velev, North Carolina State University Published: Online Aug. 2, 2013 in Nature Communications DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3257 Abstract: The ability to control, actuate, or program the shape of soft materials, such as hydrogels, may enable development of artificial muscles, enviro-intelligent sensors, actuators, biomimetic microbots, micropatterned thin films, cell scaffolds and drug delivery systems.

The mechanically patterned hydrogels exhibit programmable temporal and spatial shape transitions and serve as a basis of a new class of soft actuators able to gently manipulate objects both in air and in liquid.

Watch This Squishy, See-Through Robot Grab a Live Goldfish

Squishy, nearly transparent robots that flap, squeeze and kick when pumped with water could be the next underwater spies, at least when it comes to sneaking up on aquatic life.

The researchers, led by engineer Xuanhe Zhao and graduate student Hyunwoo Yuk, created a series of the transparent robots from a rubbery material called hydrogel, including a fin-like bot that can flap back and forth, a "limb"

For five years, Zhao's team worked to whip up various hydrogel mixes, made from polymers and water, to find one that was tough and stretchable.

Zhao noted that others have tried to craft soft robotics from hydrogels, but their materials were brittle and not very flexible, resulting in cracks after repeated use.

When brainstorming ways to create soft robots from their hydrogels, the researchers looked to nature, particularly at glass eels;

these tiny, transparent larvae are soft like hydrogels and manage to migrate unscathed over long distances to their riverine habitats.

Depending on the overall shape of each robot, when water was pumped in, it would quickly produce forceful motions, such as curling up or stretching out.

The team is now dreaming up various applications for the hydrogel robots, while also playing around with the hydrogel recipe to customize it for particular uses;

a robot used in the medical field, for instance, may not need to be completely transparent, while another application might require a stiffer hydrogel, they said.

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