Great potential as soft robotic material of the future
Scientists at Waseda University may have come a step closer to innovating soft robots to care for people. Its material, however, is something you may have never expected.
They have developed robotic crystals that walk slowly like an inchworm and roll 20,000 times faster than its walking speed. These autonomously moving, organic crystals have great potential as material for soft robots in the future, especially in the medical field.
“The crystals are flexible, durable and lightweight,” says Hideko Koshima, a visiting professor at Waseda’s Research Organization for Nano & Life Innovation. “They could possibly be used as material for microrobots which transport substances in the microscopic region, for instance, carrying egg cells for infertility treatment or conducting invasive surgery.”
Their study was published in Nature Communications on February 7, 2018.
Crystals have been expected to play an important role as locomotive material for soft robots, and its mechanical motion has been explored in terms of bending and expansion/contraction. However, more variety in movements was sought for.
Previously in 2016, Koshima’s research group reported that chiral azobenzene crystals, which were also used in the recent study, bend with exposure to light. During this investigation, the crystals were found to undergo phase transition at 145°C without fracturing, even after repeated heating and cooling.
Based on these findings, they designed the robotic crystals demonstrating two different modes of locomotion: walking and rolling.
Using an infrared thermography camera and a digital optical microscope, the group observed that thin, long plate-like crystals with thickness gradient in the longitudinal direction walked slowly like an inchworm through repeated bending and straightening under heating and cooling cycles near the transition temperature on a hot plate, moving 1.5mm in 30 minutes. On the other hand, thinner, longer plate-like crystals with width gradient rolled 3.1mm in 0.2 seconds, accelerated by tilted bending then flipping, under only one process of heating and cooling.
“The driving force behind the walking and rolling locomotion was generated from the unsymmetrical shape of the crystals,” Koshima explains.
Although the scientists would need to further study how to precisely control the direction and speed of the robotic crystals for practical application, this finding opens a door to a new field of crystal robotics, and on a larger scale, brings us a step closer to addressing issues related to population aging.
“Currently, robots are rigid and heavy, making them unsuitable for daily interaction with humans,” points out Koshima. “Our crystals could be used as a new kind of material for soft robots with improved safety and comfort. As our society ages, we must consider the symbiotic relationship between humans and robots, since robots may look after people, including the elderly, in the near future.”
Koshima is now attempting to produce robotic crystals which undergo phase transition at a much lower temperature.
The Latest on: Soft robots
- Enhanced robot “vision” enables more natural interaction with humans on April 17, 2019 at 8:33 am
TROY, N.Y. — A wide-eyed, soft-spoken robot named Pepper motors around the Intelligent Systems Lab at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. One of the researchers tests Pepper, making various gestures as ... […]
- Notre Dame Cathedral Art Was Saved With Robots: Paris Fire Chief on April 17, 2019 at 7:37 am
Firefighters in Paris said at a press conference on Wednesday that they sent special fire resistant robots with soft padding to save some of the art inside Notre Dame Cathedral when it got too hot for ... […]
- Robots that can sort recycling on April 17, 2019 at 6:17 am
Traditional hard ("rigid") robot hands have to know an object's exact location and size to be able to calculate a precise motion path. Soft hands made of materials like rubber are much more ... […]
- Artificial Intelligence Robots Market Trend,CAGR Status, Growth, Analysis and Forecast By 2024 on April 16, 2019 at 2:19 am
Key players profiled in the report include Soft Bank, Hanson Robotics, NVIDIA, Intel, Microsoft, IBM, Alphabet, Harman International Industries (Samsung), Xilinx and ABB. Company profile includes ... […]
- Inflatable Robots Are Destined for Space, If We Can Control Them on April 15, 2019 at 11:54 am
Photo: Brigham Young University Brigham Young University researchers are learning how to control a soft inflatable robot using a motion-tracking system and visual servoing. We don’t see a lot of ... […]
- Video Friday: Soft Robots, and More on April 12, 2019 at 10:41 am
Image: MIT Soft robotic fingers with embedded ionogel sensors created by MIT researchers, who'll present this project at RoboSoft 2019. Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy ... […]
- Recycling robot can sort paper and plastic by touch on April 10, 2019 at 9:00 pm
allowing for more dynamic movement than a typical robot hand without having to resort to the air pumps and compressors of soft robots. You're not about to see RoCycle take over at the local recycling ... […]
- New Dynamic Hydrogels Are Like Legos for Building Soft Robots on April 10, 2019 at 5:28 am
A new kind of hydrogel material developed at Brown University has the ability to react dynamically to its environment—bending, twisting and self-adhering on demand. The photo demonstrates ... […]
- Automating the design and printing of soft robots on April 9, 2019 at 7:03 am
Soft robots can be be designed to move in predictable ways, and then 3D printed, according to Purdue University, which has created customisable soft robot structure, and an algorithm to do the ... […]
- Soft robots created with 3D printers may help in caregiving for elderly people on April 9, 2019 at 1:04 am
The world's elderly population is booming. The number of older people -- those age 60 years or older -- is expected to more than double by 2050 and is growing faster than all younger age groups across ... […]
via Google News and Bing News