Harvard University researchers working under DARPA’s Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) program recently demonstrated the ability to manufacture low-cost silicone robots with microfluidic channels that allow for air and fluids to be pumped in to control movement, color and temperature.
In this video, a soft robot walks onto a bed of rocks and is filled with fluid to match the color of the rocks and break up the robot’s shape. The robot moves at a speed of approximately 40 meters per hour; absent the colored fluid, it can move at approximately 67 meters per hour.
Future research will be directed at smoothing the movements; however, speed is less important than the robot’s flexibility. Soft robots are useful because they are resilient and can maneuver through very constrained spaces. (more…)