A new generation of robotic tools are beginning to be realized thanks to a combination of strong ‘muscles’ and sensitive ‘nerves’ created from smart polymeric materials. A research team led by the smart materials experts Professor Stefan Seelecke and Junior Professor Gianluca Rizzello at Saarland University is exploring fundamental aspects of this exciting field of soft robotics.
New technology developed by MIT uses tactile sensing to identify objects underground, and might one day help disarm land mines or inspect cables. This sharp-tipped robot finger is equipped with tactile sensing to meet the challenge of identifying buried objects.
Soft robots may not be in touch with human feelings, but they are getting better at feeling human touch. Cornell University researchers have created a low-cost method for soft, deformable robots to detect a range of physical interactions, from pats to punches to hugs, without relying on touch at all. Instead, a USB camera located inside the robot captures the shadow movements of hand gestures on the robot’s skin and classifies them with machine-learning software.