Common Uses of Soft Robotics and Their Uses

Applied Tech Review | Thursday, October 07, 2021

Wearable robots, prosthetics, and origami muscle robots are some of the promising uses of robots that can revolutionize human lives.

Fremont CA: With the advent of soft robotic technology, everything is now possible. Soft robotics is the branch of robotics that takes its inspiration from nature the greatest. Unlike standard robots, soft robots work with very flexible and compliant materials, such as silicone elastomers and hydraulic fluidics. Soft robots can now perform numerous humanoid activities that were previously unachievable with classical robotics.

Wearable soft robots, prosthetic limbs, and origami muscle robots are some of the most promising areas for the use of soft robotics. Traditionally, biomimetics has been the focus of each field; but, once established, these technologies can be applied to a wide range of applications. These robots, when combined, have the ability to usher in the next biomimetics revolution and change the way humans live and work.

Types of soft robotics and their uses:

Wearable soft robots

Soft tissues and muscles cannot be recreated with current technology. Previous attempts to provide muscular support relied on large motors or fluidic actuators that required extra pumps, rendering them inaccessible to individuals who needed them. Providing muscular support so that we can emulate human muscles is one of the most difficult challenges in robotics. The soft robotic approach to this challenge is likely the most promising since it allows us to simulate the movements of these soft tissues while avoiding the use of heavy equipment or external compression.

Origami robots

Origami robots are simply flat sheets of metal or plastic that can be folded into various shapes to walk, toss, and even swim. Origami robots, unlike naturally folding actuators, use micro pneumatic actuators to fold into these intricate structures. The same actuators then manipulate these shapes. Origami robots are particularly powerful because of their folding, unfolding, and refolding process. What makes these robots so appealing is their ability to fold into impossible-to-fit areas and extend as needed, all while maintaining pneumatic power. These robots can only fold and roll around currently, which may make them seem useless, but as the technology evolves, they can be a helpful tool for various applications.

Prosthetics

Prosthetic limbs can be life-changing for people who have lost limbs. Creating fully functional prosthetic limbs, on the other hand, is a much more difficult task than it appears. Currently, prosthetics are being created using 3D technology and can be customized, but these prosthetics cannot respond to actual human motion. Soft robotics allows the design of entirely functional body components that can adjust to and mimic human movements. This is accomplished by using highly flexible materials, such as thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). Strong pneumatic actuation is utilized to replicate human motion. The entire assembly is led by a slew of sensors strategically placed throughout the equipment, instructing the artificial pieces on what to perform.

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