Soft Robot Crawls Like Starfish

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Soft Robot
Soft Robot

A soft robot, composed exclusively of soft materials (elastomeric polymers), is inspired by animals.

Chemists at Harvard University have created a biologically inspired robot out of elastic polymers that can crawl across surfaces and under obstacles. Robert Shepherd and Filip Ilievski were trying to help the rest of their research team create a new generation of bendable rubbery robots called soft robots. Researchers borrowed from squids, starfish and other animals without hard skeletons to fashion a small, four-legged rubber robot that calls to mind the clay animation character Gumby. This robot is quadrupedal; it uses no sensors, only five actuators, and a simple pneumatic valving system that operates at low pressures. According to professor George M. Whitesides, the leader of the research team, the advantage of soft robotics is that they demonstrate “simple types of actuation produce complex motion.”

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