Short Bytes: A team of researchers at Harvard University has created the world’s first completely soft robot named Octobot. By combining soft lithography, molding, and 3-D printing, the team has been able to create an untethered and autonomous robot. The robot can move for about 8 minutes on 1mm of fuel.Soft robotics is a modern technology that can bring exciting changes to the way humans interact with machines. While the researchers have managed to create some initial prototypes, they’ve been facing challenges when it comes to an entirely soft robot. These challenges are the rigid parts like circuit boards, batteries, etc.
Thanks to their expertise in 3D printing, mechanical engineering, and microfluidics, a team of Harvard University researchers has demonstrated the first completely soft robot. Unlike the previous examples of soft robots, it’s untethered and autonomous.
This little, 3D-printed robot has been nicknamed the Octobot. The team has used the hybrid assembly approach to 3D print every functional component–fuel storage, actuation, power. The entire research can be found in the journal Nature.
Octobot is pneumatic-based, i.e., powered by pressurized gas. A catalytic chemical reaction inside robot turns hydrogen peroxide, which acts as fuel, into a large amount of gas. This process inflates the arms of the robot and helps it move.
The whole system combines three methods to fabricate the robot — soft lithography, molding, and 3-D printing. The team behind Octobot has called it a simple embodiment designed to showcase their “integrated design and additive fabrication strategy for embedding autonomous functionality.”
After Octobot, the team wishes to work on more complex designs and make soft robots that can crawl, swim, and respond to the environment.
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