Contrary to the normal robot, researchers led by University of Houston engineer have created a soft robot made of ultrathin sensing, triggered electronics and artificial muscle that is temperature-sensitive, according to Science Daily. This caterpillar-like robot has the ability to adapt to the environment and aid in applications such as surgery, rehabilitation, and search and rescue missions.
The robot is designed to change shape in response to its surroundings and can maneuver through small crevices, such as searching for survivors in leftover rubble from earthquakes or a bombing.
There are quite a few advantages over this soft robot, rather than traditional robots. The soft-prototype robot includes a liquid crystal elastomer, encased with carbon black nanoparticles to augment thermal conductivity. The artificial muscle has an ultrathin mesh material that stretches with the thermal actuators and silicon-based light sensors; these actuators give off heat to activate the robot.
Eventually, researchers hope to test soft robots to help doctors navigate while performing surgery. Right now, Cunjiang Yu, Bill D. Cook Assistant Professor of mechanical engineering said the 28.6-millimeter robot’s next step will be to experiment with different types of sensors.
“This is the first of its kind,” Yu said. “You can use other sensors, depending on what you want it to do.”