In a world where science meets science fiction — meet China’s state-of-the-art soft robot.
A creation that could change the way we live and work.
Researchers at Tianjin University have developed a new type of robot that combines flexible electronics with liquid droplets — the world’s first fully soft-bodied robot, and is expected to become a promising advance for the development of flexible electronics industry and implantable medical devices, China News Service reported.
Inspired by biological organisms, such as jellyfish, that possess soft mechanics and comply readily with external forces, the liquid droplets with the functionality of flexible electronics and techniques uses droplets as carriers for flexible devices.
They possess similar mechanics as the soft organs and supply sophisticated functions that have been demonstrated for sensing, displaying, computing, and energy harvesting and storage, the report said.
The research, carried out by a team led by Professor Huang Xian from the Department of Precision Instruments of Tianjin University, was recently published in the science journal Advanced Science.
Compared to existing soft robots, which still rely primarily on rigid components and circuits, the new robot based completely on soft matters has an advantage that it can withstand large deformation through reversible shape shifting.
The liquid droplets may improve mobility of flexible electronics, allowing flexible devices to perform tasks in different locations and environments, the report said.
It also features autonomous perception and control capabilities, allowing potential applications in environmental monitoring, molecule analysis, drug assessment, and chemical synthesis.
According to Wikipedia, soft robotics is the specific subfield of robotics dealing with constructing robots from highly compliant materials, similar to those found in living organisms.
Soft robotics draws heavily from the way in which living organisms move and adapt to their surroundings.
In contrast to robots built from rigid materials, soft robots allow for increased flexibility and adaptability for accomplishing tasks, as well as improved safety when working around humans.
These characteristics allow for its potential use in the fields of medicine and manufacturing.
Soft robots can be implemented in the medical profession, specifically for invasive surgery, the report said. Soft robots can be made to assist surgeries due to their shape changing properties.
Shape change is important as a soft robot could navigate around different structures in the human body by adjusting its form. This could be accomplished through the use of fluidic actuation.
Traditionally, manufacturing robots have been isolated from human workers due to safety concerns, as a rigid robot colliding with a human could easily lead to injury due to the fast-paced motion of the robot.
However, soft robots could work alongside humans safely, as in a collision the compliant nature of the robot would prevent or minimize any potential injury.