Harvard University researchers created a 3D-printed entirely compliant robot
Harvard University researchers introduced an innovational development – a 3D-printed autonomous soft robot. Robot’s movements are possible due to special chemical reactions.
A team of researchers under the leadership of Jennifer Lewis and Robert Wood proved that 3D-printing allows creating soft robots without using rigid components such as circuit boards and batteries.
The first 3D-printed soft-bodied robot was named octobot since the robot’s designers were inspired by an octopus. A traditional electronic oscillator was replaced by a pneumatic actuator by means of which hydrogen peroxide decomposes to gas which flows into the octobot’s arms. It can move uninterruptedly for 8 minutes. In future it is planned to implement flexible sensors and achieve the robot’s full mobility.
Creation of an entirely soft robot would have been impossible without a 3D-printer. By combining 3D-printing, soft lithography and molding specialists manufactured fuel storage, moving elements, oscillators and other components in a short period of time.
Today 3D-printed octobot can move its tentacles on its own. But the improved version is likely to be able to swim, crawl and perform other actions.
Scientists hope that their innovation will form the basis for other robotics projects and soft robots will be used for underwater rescue operations, reconnaissance and temperature measurements at a depth. It is believed that the technology of3D-printed soft robots can be used while manufacturing artificial organ transplants.