When you think of robots, it’s likely the image that pops into your head is one of a rigid, perhaps humanoid metallic machine with electro-mechanical actuators and calculated movements. Which is all the more reason why, when UC Santa Barbara mechanical engineering assistant professor Elliot Hawkes’ pliable, pneumatic-powered soft robot came along, it was considered so innovative. And it’s now been named one of Science Robotics’ “Ten robotics technologies of the year.”
“We are honored to have our soft robot chosen,” said Hawkes, who developed this technology with colleagues at Stanford University. “There is definitely a bit of luck involved, given all the robots out there, but we are excited nonetheless.”
It’s much more than luck, though. Inspired by systems that would seem unconventional for robotics, such as plants’ roots or growing tips, or developing nervous systems in animals, this robot’s innovation is that it grows to navigate its environment.
To view the complete story, please read A Top Ten Robot (link is external)by Sofia Fernandez published in The Current.