When you think of robotics, you likely think of something rigid, heavy, and built for a specific purpose. New “Robotic Skins” technology developed by Yale researchers flips that notion on its head, allowing users to animate the inanimate and turn everyday objects into robots.
Developed in the lab of Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio, assistant professor of mechanical engineering & materials science, robotic skins enable users to design their own robotic systems. Although the skins are designed with no specific task in mind, Kramer-Bottiglio said, they could be used for everything from search-and-rescue robots to wearable technologies. The results of the team’s work are published today in Science Robotics.
The skins are made from elastic sheets embedded with sensors and actuators developed in Kramer-Bottiglio’s lab. Placed on a deformable object — a stuffed animal or a foam tube, for instance — the skins animate these objects from their surfaces. The makeshift robots can perform different tasks depending on the properties of the soft objects and how the skins are applied.
“We can take the skins and wrap them around one object to perform a task — locomotion, for example — and then take them off and put them on a different object to perform a different task, such as grasping and moving an object,” she said. “We can then take those same skins off that object and put them on a shirt to make an active wearable device.”
Robots are typically built with a single purpose in mind. The robotic skins, however, allow users to create multi-functional robots on the fly. That means they can be used in settings that hadn’t even been considered when they were designed, said Kramer-Bottiglio.
Additionally, using more than one skin at a time allows for more complex movements. For instance, Kramer-Bottiglio said, you can layer the skins to get different types of motion. “Now we can get combined modes of actuation — for example, simultaneous compression and bending.”
To demonstrate the robotic skins in action, the researchers created a handful of prototypes. These include foam cylinders that move like an inchworm, a shirt-like wearable device designed to correct poor posture, and a device with a gripper that can grasp and move objects.
Kramer-Bottiglio said she came up with the idea for the devices a few years ago when NASA put out a call for soft robotic systems. The technology was designed in partnership with NASA, and its multifunctional and reusable nature would allow astronauts to accomplish an array of tasks with the same reconfigurable material. The same skins used to make a robotic arm out of a piece of foam could be removed and applied to create a soft Mars rover that can roll over rough terrain. With the robotic skins on board, the Yale scientist said, anything from balloons to balls of crumpled paper could potentially be made into a robot with a purpose.
“One of the main things I considered was the importance of multifunctionality, especially for deep space exploration where the environment is unpredictable,” she said. “The question is: How do you prepare for the unknown unknowns?”
For the same line of research, Kramer-Bottiglio was recently awarded a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation, as part of its Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation program.
Next, she said, the lab will work on streamlining the devices and explore the possibility of 3D printing the components.
The Latest on: Robotic skins
via Google News
The Latest on: Robotic skins
- A famous voyage, bewitching tales and nature’s twosomes By various authors - book reviewson January 13, 2021 at 5:01 am
Step aboard HMS Beagle and join Charles Darwin’s groundbreaking voyage, meet some adventure-loving witches, discover the awesome power of sleep, and marvel at the wonder of nature’s unusual ...
- Restaurants embrace emerging technology to keep people, spaces safe during pandemicon January 12, 2021 at 6:52 am
No technological development used by restaurants offers a sure-fire solution to the virus, yet each of these innovations presents one more line of defense for keeping people and spaces safer — and the ...
- At all-virtual CES, the spotlight is on touchless tech, robot companions — and smart bathroomson January 12, 2021 at 3:35 am
While the all-virtual CES 2021 is not as glitzy as Vegas conferences, there's no shortage of digital health and wellness products this year. The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have inspired new products ...
- PS5 stock checker UK – Playstation 5 consoles & skins at Very, Smyths, Game, Currys, Argos, Amazon – plus Doritos prizeson January 11, 2021 at 8:58 am
NEW YEAR, same old struggle to get your hands on a PlayStation 5, as the new console continues to sell well following its November release. New stock drops at the likes of Currys, Argos, Game, ...
- maxon building custom drives for rehab robotson January 11, 2021 at 8:55 am
Group and Fourier Intelligence today announced they are entering into a global strategic partnership. Fourier Intelligence, a Shanghai-based startup ...
- CES goes full pandemic with smart masks, stickers to detect covid and the biggest WiFi update in yearson January 11, 2021 at 8:00 am
The annual consumer tech conference in Las Vegas was forced online in 2021 — but that hasn’t stopped the flow of new, improved and just weird products. That includes the BioButton, Bose Sport Open ...
- CES Liveblog: Smart Home, Workout Tech, and So Many TVson January 11, 2021 at 4:03 am
The consumer tech show is virtual this year, and the WIRED Gear crew is watching all the Zooms to bring you up-to-the-minute highlights of news from CES.
- 3D-Printed “Artificial Muscle” Inspired by Color-Changing Octopus Skinon January 8, 2021 at 10:53 pm
Printed Smart Gel Changes Shape When Exposed to Light Inspired by the color-changing skin of cuttlefish, octopuses and squids, Rutgers engineers have created a 3D-printed smart gel that changes shape ...
- Latest Trends In 'Electronic Skin Patches Market' To Grow at 10.3% of CAGR by 2027 | Emergen Researchon January 8, 2021 at 12:25 am
Latest Trends In 'Electronic Skin Patches Market' To Grow at 10.3% of CAGR by 2027 | Emergen Research 
via Bing News