The Future of Robotics Is Pliable

by | Mar 1, 2017 | Technology Featured

Making recent headlines is the revolutionary creation of an Octobot. This small mechanical bot, created using Soft Robotics in the form of an octopus, may have opened the door to how scientists can use liquid silicone rubber to develop more humanoid robots that can work on important tasks.

The field of Soft Robotics is still developing as it tries to overcome the challenges of new materials, modeling, simulations, controls and testing of this new generation of robots. The octobot uses a combination of microfluidics and chemical reactions to move its small parts.

Is Liquid Silicone Rubber the Future for Robotics?

Scientists are looking more into soft robots due to their ability to work with real-world environments and human interactions. Real skin is soft and waterproof, yet it supports your body’s ability to grasp and manipulate objects. Using a version of this “skin” may enable soft robots to interact with humans safely while reacting to uncontrolled environments.

The octobot’s skeleton is liquid silicone rubber (LSR) to make the robot’s body pliable and its brain a flexible microfluidic circuit for liquid fuel. By pouring silicone polymers into an octopus mold, scientists were able to use a 3D printer to create channels for the robot’s circuitry. Unlike other materials, LSR is environmentally friendly because it does not generate by-products, yet it provides the durability needed in Soft Robotics.

Future advancements in microfluidics may prove this science is useful for larger soft robots with limbs. Instead of the metal robots we have pictured in our minds, humanoid robots with a soft exterior are a real possibility.


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