Autonomous, soft robots

A Harvard University team of researchers with expertise in various fields recently came together to develop the first entirely soft robots. Soft robots until now always contained some hard components, like the microchip, circuit boards etc.

Credit: Lori Sanders
Credit: Lori Sanders

The team worked together to build the octobot, a small robot that is powered by hydrogen peroxide. The study hopes to inspire more research into the field and was published in the journal Nature.

The bot was developed using three methods – 3D Printing, lithography and molding. Moreover, the team used hydrogen peroxide due to its simple reaction with a catalyst (platinum).

Questions to consider,

  • Is the hydrogen peroxide reaction viable in the long term for robots? If not, what could we use?
  • Do we need robotics in certain fields today? How can robots help us?
  • Using the research, is it possible to build our own soft-robots at home?

Wehner M, Truby RL, Fitzgerald DJ, Mosadegh B, Whitesides GM, Lewis JA, & Wood RJ (2016). An integrated design and fabrication strategy for entirely soft, autonomous robots. Nature, 536 (7617), 451-5 PMID: 27558065

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