Soft robots are increasing in popularity because of their longevity and low costs in contrast to other robotics. However, the researchers at the University of California, Berkley and Tsinghua University in China have discovered a new reason to love soft robots; they are long-lasting and hard as nails. The researchers made a new kind of robot that had a relative speed of 20 body lengths per second, clocking a rate that is the quickest
Contrary to its appearance, the soft robot, which resembles a strip of paper, can carry loads, climb slopes and are as strong as cockroaches. Besides, a report published in Science Robotics reveals that the robot could also endure the weight of an adult footstep, which is around one million more times heavier than the soft robot.
Even the researchers also developed a robot that had two legs rather than one and was able to go quicker. As per a report, the researchers said the robots with double legs could be used to explore environments, structures and for disaster relief. Not larger than a stamp, the robot is comprised of a thin sheet of piezoelectric material known as polyvinylidene fluoride. The material is covered with an elastic polymer that allows it to bend. The addition of a leg will enable it to move forward.
The robots are flexible and can quickly adjust to new environments. They are also easy to repair and replace on low cost. These features make soft robots very appealing to scientists.
“By generalizing several solutions found in animals, we introduce a fast and ultra-robust insect-scale soft robot for potential applications in environmental exploration, structural inspection, information reconnaissance, and disaster relief,” wrote the researchers. “Our robot uses the large vibration amplitude and a bouncing gait mechanism to generate wavelike locomotion near its resonant frequency.”
Well, not only the researchers at Tsinghua University in China and the University of California are using soft robots to explore the environment. In May, NASA declared two interns are developing soft robotic controllers that could be sent to explore the moon. Chuck Sullivan and Jack Fitzpatrick, the interns, working at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Fitzpatrick claimed that when a soft robot is used, it changes how you use the material properties. Something as simple as a flat rubber can be transformed into the shape of a finger.