Researchers in the field of software robots hope to bring a new generation of machines that are safer for humans, and they hope to do so with soft inflatable stools. Scientists at Stanford University and the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) have come up with a particularly interesting solution that showcases an inflatable robot. The robot can deform, grip objects and scroll in unrestricted directions.
“One of the significant limitations of most software robots is that they have to be fixed to bulky air compressors or inserted into walls to prevent them from moving,” says Nathan Usevitch, a graduate student in mechanical engineering at Stanford University. So we want to know: What if we keep the same amount of air in the robot? “
The team’s software robot is based on a single inflatable tube. One machine squeezes the ends of the tube together, while the other two machines move the pipe up and down, moving its position to create two other corners and produce various forms of triangles. The researchers call it an equidistant robot, which means that although the amount of internal air and total length remain exactly the same, it still has the ability to change shape significantly.
Elliot Hawkes, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB and co-author, said: “The main understanding we developed is that moving with large, soft pneumatic robots doesn’t actually require pumping and pumping air. You can use the air you already have and move it with these simple motors, which is more efficient and allows our robots to move faster. “
“The idea is that you can change the shape of a soft robot by using a simple motor driven along a tube, rather than using the slow, inefficient pumps that are commonly used,” Hawkes added.
Multiple isometric robots can be connected to each other to form more powerful machines and to connect through three degrees of freedom joints to create truss-like structures. You can then manipulate three of them by allowing them to pick up the ball or roll in the desired direction by moving the center of gravity. The team believes these features can be useful in disaster situations, where the robot can cross narrow spaces into collapsed buildings and then reconfigure them into a support structure. Its soft, rugged properties also allow it to be used in the home or workplace, giving it a distinct safety advantage over traditional rugged robots. One possibility of team excitement is outer space.
Zachary Hammond, co-author of the paper, said: “The robot can be really useful for space exploration, especially since it can be packed in a small package and then run unconstrained after inflating. On another planet, it can use its deformation capabilities to travel through complex environments, squeeze through narrow spaces and spread over obstacles. “
The team is continuing to refine its equidistant robot, experimenting with different shapes and may even see if it can swim. “This study highlights how to think about the power of robots in new ways,” said allison Okamura, co-author of the paper. With the development of this system, the creativity of robot design is expanding, which we really want to encourage in the field of robotics. “
The study was published in the journal Science Robotics.