The Soft Robots, a Surprising Innovation

Industry insights

Seoul National University and Sungkyunkwan University researchers have developed quite the surprising robot. It’s a completely flexible robot without a motor or gears that still manages to move independently. It’s the first robot of its kind, according to dailygeekshow.com, and it’s an interesting technology for us at Kinova® Robotics, where we intend to follow its evolution as we do with all technological breakthroughs in robotics that are likely to empower people’s lives.

The robot, called DeployBot, works with an “electrical current applied to memory alloy wires integrated into its frame,” says the high-tech news site. The advantage of this modular robot is that it can be effective in arid environments where traditional robots have lower life expectancy, says one of the authors of the study, Sun-Hoon Ahn.

“We will be closely monitoring the evolution of the DeployBot to evaluate possible applications for Kinova’s products to the benefit of our customers” -Keith Blanchet

This technological advance could theoretically have several applications. For example, it could be used to explore environments that are inhospitable to humans, such as the bottom of the ocean or the planet Mars. The researchers say that flexible robots have less need for maintenance and break down less frequently, which is why they are useful in remote locations.

Kinova® Robotics welcomes this technological advance. “We will be closely monitoring the evolution of the DeployBot to evaluate possible applications for Kinova’s products to the benefit of our customers. This developing technology could potentially have a significant impact on people’s lives in the coming years. It could lead to the creation of a flexible wearable exoskeleton, which a person who has moving difficulties might wear. The exoskeleton would support the person only when needed. It would meet Kinova’s value since it would put human first,” says Keith Blanchet Senior Director – Innovation Robotics Division at Kinova.

How soft robots work 

The DeployBot is composed of several modules held together by magnets. The current that passes through the shape memory wire that runs along the modules allows them to contract and resume their shape. This movement allows the robot to move.

DeployBot moves slowly, which is a disadvantage. But as mentioned on dailygeekshow.com, it can still be useful for applications that do not necessarily require speed.

Researchers are now working to develop methods to move robots without electrical power, by “using pneumatic actuators, magnetic fields or optical forces.”

Read the full article (French only): http://dailygeekshow.com/robot-mou-deploybot/

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