These days not all robots are designed to be hardcore metal machines, the arena of soft robotics is beginning to grow. They have a number of obvious benefits including the fact that they are flexible enough to be able to morph and change their physical properties. Other advantages are their ability to be controlled by relatively low-tech means, they can be used in delicate environments, and they are easy to transport.
One of the latest contenders in soft robotics is the Glaucus. Named after the blue sea slug Glaucus atlanticus, this soft bot was developed by Brooklyn-based tech firm, Super-Releaser. It has no mechanical parts and is covered with a seamless silicone skin.
The quadruped robot has four inner chambers and bladders that can be inflated by two airlines. The air helps bend the robot’s legs and the sides of its body, enabling it to navigate by balancing on diagonally opposite pairs of legs, with movements similar to a salamander.
This low-cost open source technology has a great deal of potential in the fields of medicine and engineering. What’s even more fun is that you can create your own relatively easily. You can download all the source files and start making your own soft robot. All you have to do is 3-d print the molds and fill them with silicone. Once your Glaucus has dried you can attach an air supply and then you’re ready to experiment.
Founded by Mathew Borgatti, Super-Releaser describes itself as a collective of engineers, designers and artists. The team specializes in the design and development of soft robotics for medical device prototypes. Their other projects include prosthetic sleeves, molding systems for compliant prosthetic limbs and orthotic cuffs.