Ready to hack: soft robots

One of the priorities of soft robotics is to develop a new generation of materials that are, for example, recyclable or can self-heal. These types of self-healing materials can repair damage done to themselves when exposed to heat or a certain type of light. This is very useful for robots that are vulnerable to damage.

Engineers draw their inspiration from nature, and from animals that effortlessly combine strength and flexibility. Animals are an excellent source of inspiration because their form has been refined over time. The seahorse, for example, has a curly, flexible tail that is also armored. The animal must protect itself from predators.

In the next step, the researchers want to make the materials themselves smart, so that decisions are decentralized and therefore made faster. In this way they develop materials that respond to the stimulus. Think of a material that generates electrical tension when it stretches, or can move you based on magnetic attraction. These elements ensure that more intelligence is built into the robot itself and that computing power remains free.

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Megan Vasquez

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