first_img Robot Dog Astro Can Sit, Lie Down, and Save LivesYou Can’t Squish This Cockroach-Inspired Robot Stay on target The U.S. Army is taking cues from invertebrates to create more flexible robots.A joint project between the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) and University of Minnesota (UMN) sought inspiration from spineless animals like insects, crustaceans, mollusks, echinoderms, jellyfish, and worms.The Army uses structurally rigid robots—great for protecting soldiers and machinery, but rather impractical for operations that require covert handling.AdChoices广告“Successful stealthy maneuvering requires high structural flexibility and distributive control to sneak into confined or restricted spaces, operate for extended periods, and emulate biological morphologies and adaptability,” Ed Habtour, ARL researcher who specialized in nonlinear structural dynamics, said in a statement.Existing military bots, he explained, have two major limitations: a lack of dynamic flexibility, and complex mechanisms and electrical circuitries. To overcome these handicaps, teams from ARL and UMN turned to nature.Their initial research sired soft actuator prototypes—the first fully 3D-printed dielectric elastomer actuator (DEA) that can perform high bending motion.Habtour et al., however, were not first to arrive at the soft robot party: Mimicking real octopuses, Harvard scientists in 2016 created the original soft robot, Octobot.Built using a combination of 3D printing, pneumatics, and chemical reactions, Octobot’s limbs move, but don’t actually drive the cyborg; the simple proof of concept is not mobile or capable of interacting with its environment.Still, a glowing, pliable octopus is pretty cool.There is no telling what the Army will make with their newfound technology—a bionic crab? An automated jellyfish?ARL is still in the early stages of development, their research published recently in the journal Extreme Mechanics Letters.“The research findings represent an important stepping stone towards providing the soldier an autonomous freeform fabrication platform—next-generation 3D printer, which can print functional materials and devices—to generate soft actuators and potentially tetherless soft robots on demand, on the fly, and at the point of need,” Habtour said.last_img

US Armys Soft Robots Inspired by Invertebrates

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