Inspired by insect body parts, a group of engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed a new method for creating soft robots. With this new and innovative method, soft robots can now be created in a fraction of the time usually needed, as well as at a fraction of the usual cost.
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The innovation comes from rethinking the way soft robots are built: instead of figuring out how to add soft materials to a rigid robot body, the UC San Diego researchers started with a soft body and added rigid features to key components. The structures were inspired by insect exoskeletons, which have both soft and rigid parts—the researchers called their creations “flexoskeletons.”
One flexoskeleton component takes 10 minutes to print and costs less than $1. Flexoskeleton printing can be done on most low-cost commercially available printers. Printing and assembling a whole robot takes under two hours.
The ultimate goal behind this study is to create swarms of robots that might be able to do as much work as a single massive robot.
The problem, however, that I can see with this one, is how long these tiny robots will last in light of their fragile and exposed parts.
What are your thoughts about this one?
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