Engineers at the @ucsandiego have developed a way to build soft robots that are compact, portable and multifunctional by creating soft, tubular actuators whose movements are electrically controlled.
To accomplish this, the team used liquid crystal elastomers, which change shape when heated. To make their tubular grippers, they sandwiched three heating wires in between two elastomer layers, then rolled them into a cylinder. With this arrangement, the tubes are able to bend in six different directions, with each of the three regions deforming differently depending on the applied current.
With these unique actuators, the researchers were able to make a three-jaw griper that can squeeze together to pick up objects. From there they constructed a four-legged robot that can move independently under control of a tiny @arduino.cc Pro Mini. As of now, the actuators are quite slow, requiring 30 seconds for bends, and minutes to return to their original shape.
// 🤖 bit.ly/soft-actuators
// 📷 jacobsschool.ucsd.edu
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