Inflatable soft robots are much more than soft actuators for gripping delicate objects. They are rich dynamic structures capable of memory and computations all on their own. Carefully designed soft robotic systems therefore do not require any electronic control at all to perform complex functions. Instead, their geometry and materials automatically react to stimuli from the user or from the environment in a meaningful way. This concept is called embodied intelligence and promises extremely cheap, robust or small soft robots capable of autonomously executing tasks in complex environments. However, as of yet it is unclear how to design soft robots such that they accomplish a certain function automatically. To answer this need, we are developing a python library called FONS (Fluidic Object-oriented Network Simulator).Continue reading “Modelling embodied intelligence in soft fluidic networks with FONS”
What is the role of control in soft robots, and what are the challenges ahead for the soft robotics community. I am discussing this and much more in this episode of the Soft Robotics Podcast series.
When looking at soft robots, people may immediately see movable rubbery structures and be astounded by such devices, which recall octopus tentacles, earthworms and other organisms. But already at a second sight, some might question the effectiveness of such compliant structures when compared to well-known hard robots, which revolutionized automation and manufacturing industries, and start wondering where the main weaknesses lie. Continue reading “Intelligence emerges from complexity”
During the first semester of the 2017-2018 academic year, 42 bachelor students were involved in a soft robotics project course, organized at the faculty of engineering science of the KULeuven . In groups of 6, the goal was to design and fabricate a soft robotic leg with only one pneumatic supply tube that is able to perform a stepping motion. The astonishing results were shown during the open demoday, and can be seen below. A big congratulations to all teams!