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Soft-Robotics: The robots of the future won't look anything like the Terminator

Soft-Robotics: The robots of the future won't look anything like the Terminator | STEAM | Scoop.it

The field of soft robotics has attracted a rush of attention in the last year. Down the road at Harvard, multiple groups are working on soft robotic hands, jumping legs, exosuits, and quadrupeds that can do the limbo. At Worcester Polytechnic Institute's Soft Robotics Lab, researchers are building a snake. In San Francisco, a startup called Otherlab is buildinginflatable robots that can shake hands, walk, and carry riders. In Italy, a group of researchers built a robotic tentacle modeled after an octopus.

 

Before the 1970s, car companies made cars safer by making them larger and heavier. Then along came the airbag: a lightweight safety device that folded up invisibly into the vehicle until it sensed a crash. Similar revolutions took place with body armor, bridges, and contact lenses, and these researchers believe something similar is happening with robots.

 

"It’s not a part of conventional robotics technologies," says Fumiya Iida, a professor of bio-inspired robotics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology-Zurich and a member of the IEEE committee on soft robotics. "They have to think completely differently, use different materials, different energy sources. Definitely this is the way we should go in the long run." One of the most impressive rigid robots in the world right now is Boston Dynamics’ 300-pound humanoid Atlas. If Atlas wants to pick up a ball, it needs to sense and compute the precise distance between its digits and the ball and figure out exactly where to place its hand and how much pressure to apply.


Robots like Atlas "are doing a lot of thinking," says Barry Trimmer, PhD, a professor at Tufts and the editor of a new journal, Soft Robotics, which launched last month. "There’s a lot of hesitancy. ‘Where do I put my foot next?’ Animals just don't do that. We need to get away from the idea that you have to control every variable."

 

By contrast, Harvard’s starfish-shaped soft gripper only needs to be told to inflate. As it’s pumped full of air, it conforms to the shape of an object until its "fingers" have enough pressure to lift it. Another example would be a human picking up a glass of water. We don’t have to compute the exact size and shape of the glass with our brains; our hand adapts to the object. Similarly, Bubbles doesn’t calculate the full length of its movement.


There are technological challenges as well. In addition to air and fluid pressure actuators, soft roboticists are experimenting with dielectric elastomers, elastic materials that expand and contract in response to electric voltage; shape-memory alloys, metal alloys that can be programmed to change shape at certain temperatures; and springs that respond to light. These approaches are still rudimentary, as are the control systems that operate the robots. In the case of many of Harvard’s soft robots, it’s simply a syringe of air attached to a tube.


The field is so new, however, that no possibilities have yet been ruled out. Soft robotics technologies could theoretically be used in a wearable pair of human wings.More practically, soft robots could easily pack eggs or pick fruit — traditional hard robots, equipped with superhuman grips, are more likely to break yolks and inadvertently make applesauce. A mass of wormlike "meshworm" robots could be filled with water and dropped over a disaster area, where they would crawl to survivors. A soft robotic sleeve could be worn to eliminate tremors or supplement strength lost with age. Soft robots could be used in space exploration, where weight is hugely important; in prosthetics, where they would provide comfort and lifelikeness; in the home, where they can help out around the house without trampling the dog; and in surgical robots, where operators have inspired a few lawsuits after puncturing patients’ insides.

 



Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
Anne Pascucci, MPA, CRA's insight:

Very cool!

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Rudolf Kabutz's curator insight, July 3, 2014 6:38 AM

Do robots have to be hard and metallic? Soft spongy robots could have many advantages.

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CNU Board of Visitors approves funding for three new buildings - Daily Press

CNU Board of Visitors approves funding for three new buildings - Daily Press | STEAM | Scoop.it
Christopher Newport University 's Board of Visitors approved resolutions on Feb. 20 for debt issuance to expand dining facilities, construct residential housing and build residence hall VII on campus.
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Destination Imagination: Area teams for regional tournament

Destination Imagination: Area teams for regional tournament | STEAM | Scoop.it
More than 20 local school teams and 150 students, including groups from Kingsport, Sullivan County and Johnson City, are scheduled to participate in the Destination Imagination Regional Tournament in Greene County.

Via Charles Tiayon
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Event introduces engineering and technology to girls - Quad City Times

Event introduces engineering and technology to girls - Quad City Times | STEAM | Scoop.it
Melaina Yender, 8, and her sister Lillian, 6, worked the blades of the small windmill at the Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center table inside the Rogalski Center at St.
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Wareham STEAM students hold robot 'parade' - Wicked Local Wareham

Wareham STEAM students hold robot 'parade' - Wicked Local Wareham | STEAM | Scoop.it
WAREHAM – It may not have compared to a Veterans Day procession in Wareham or a New Year’s Day extravaganza in California, but a
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Engineering game promotes problem solving, mechanical concepts | eSchool News | eSchool News

Engineering game promotes problem solving, mechanical concepts | eSchool News | eSchool News | STEAM | Scoop.it
A new engineering game helps students learn hard-to-master mechanical design concepts.

Via Bookmarking Librarian
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We're Testing Children on the Wrong Things - New York Magazine

We're Testing Children on the Wrong Things - New York Magazine | STEAM | Scoop.it
Are we measuring what we want to measure in education?
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U. Mass. Will Not Admit Iranian Students to Schools of Engineering and Natural Sciences

U. Mass. Will Not Admit Iranian Students to Schools of Engineering and Natural Sciences | STEAM | Scoop.it
U. Mass. Will Not Admit Iranian Students to Schools of Engineering and Natural Sciences http://t.co/OYX7uFm0Mn via @CoreyRobin
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From STEM to STEAM to STREAM: wRiting as an Essential Component of Science Education

From STEM to STEAM to STREAM: wRiting as an Essential Component of Science Education | STEAM | Scoop.it
Writing mastery is essential to STEM learning and innovating.
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“All Eyes on IMLS”: Priorities for 2015 | ALA Midwinter 2015 - Library Journal

“All Eyes on IMLS”: Priorities for 2015 | ALA Midwinter 2015 - Library Journal | STEAM | Scoop.it
Eager to promote strategic priorities for 2015, officials for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) trained a spotlight on the various federal funding resources available through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) during a...
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Mathematics and Arts, as Critical components of a Civilization : Hyung ju Park at TEDxDaedeokValley - Videos Online

Mathematics and Arts, as Critical components of a Civilization : Hyung ju Park at TEDxDaedeokValley - Videos Online | STEAM | Scoop.it
Hyung ju Park was studying physics as an undergraduate at Seoul National University when he discovered the beauty of Evasite Galois's group theory.
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Opening day highlights at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival - Ravalli Republic

Opening day highlights at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival - Ravalli Republic | STEAM | Scoop.it
Each day, watch for highlights from the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. Starting Saturday, these highlights will run in the Montana section of the Missoulian.
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Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) Share Fair open to community March 7 - College of Education | University of South Carolina

Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) Share Fair open to community March 7 - College of Education | University of South Carolina | STEAM | Scoop.it
All community members are invited to Share Fair Nation, a day of free, interactive science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) learning and fun March 7 at River Bluff High School in Columbia, SC.
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Camps for the Kid Who Loves Science, Tech, Engineering, Math - ABC News

Camps for the Kid Who Loves Science, Tech, Engineering, Math - ABC News | STEAM | Scoop.it
For kids whose dream summer camp involves more coding than canoeing, more technology than tennis and more science than swimming, STEM summer camps — once considered a contradiction in terms — are popular and plentiful.
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Best line in the article is "fun of thinking"!!

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You are here - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

You are here - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute | STEAM | Scoop.it
You are here
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
“We are always looking for ways to engage with students and the local community to encourage individuals to explore science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.
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Only one day a year?  RPI still rocks

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NMSU attracts hundreds of high school kids 'energized about engineering' - Las Cruces Sun-News

NMSU attracts hundreds of high school kids 'energized about engineering' - Las Cruces Sun-News | STEAM | Scoop.it
LAS CRUCES >> About 500 high school students from across New Mexico converged on New Mexico State University and received a taste of college life on Tuesday.
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Leading Mobility Innovation Sparks Collaboration Among Global Engineering Community

Leading Mobility Innovation Sparks Collaboration Among Global Engineering Community | STEAM | Scoop.it
Under the theme Leading Mobility Innovation, Honda is honored to serve as the Host Company of the Society of Automotive Engineers' (SAE) 2015 World Congress & Exhibition, April 21-23 at Cobo Ha...
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Science museum catapults children into engineering fun - Roanoke Times

Science museum catapults children into engineering fun - Roanoke Times | STEAM | Scoop.it
The latest news headlines for Roanoke VA news from The Roanoke Times
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[UPDATED] A University Reversed Its Ban on Iranian Students After Outrage

[UPDATED] A University Reversed Its Ban on Iranian Students After Outrage | STEAM | Scoop.it
Students said they felt "betrayed, excluded, and threatened."
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Rethink Different Learners Blog

In Adam Man's most recent blog post, he examines STEAM
(Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics).... http://t.co/sgy70l4lNv
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Full STEAM Ahead: Inside Penn's Approach to Education - The Daily Pennsylvanian

Full STEAM Ahead: Inside Penn's Approach to Education - The Daily Pennsylvanian | STEAM | Scoop.it
Is emphasizing everything the same as emphasizing nothing? Penn’s choice of a STEAM approach to education  — instead of a STEM approach — has raised this question.
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Hipolito hired to guide STEAM curriculum at St. Helena Catholic School - Napa Valley Register

Hipolito hired to guide STEAM curriculum at St. Helena Catholic School - Napa Valley Register | STEAM | Scoop.it
St. Helena Catholic School has hired Jay Hipolito as a new faculty member to guide the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) enrichment program and curriculum for the school.
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The Fascinating Engineering Details of the Titanic From a 1909 Journal 

The Fascinating Engineering Details of the Titanic From a 1909 Journal  | STEAM | Scoop.it
It's over 100 years since the Titanic final, fateful journey.
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What stories these journals can tell...

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Re-creating a tornado in 3-D provides a more effective way to study storms - Phys.Org

Re-creating a tornado in 3-D provides a more effective way to study storms - Phys.Org | STEAM | Scoop.it
When The Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore stepped into an EF-5 tornado re-created in 3-D in a four-story immersive installation at Virginia Tech, his perspective was that of someone 7,000 feet tall.
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Bringing art and technology together - Ames Tribune

Bringing art and technology together - Ames Tribune | STEAM | Scoop.it
Tibi Chelcea wants us to step back and note how much technology is a part of our daily lives.
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Destination Imagination combines creativity and community service - The Breeze

Destination Imagination combines creativity and community service - The Breeze | STEAM | Scoop.it
It’s common knowledge that finding electives and classes that count for each major can be a challenge. However, one class is offered as an elective for all 71 degree programs.
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