New Robotic Skin Turns Everyday Objects Into Moving Robots

Posted: Sep 20 2018, 3:50pm CDT | by , Updated: Sep 20 2018, 4:00pm CDT, in Latest Science News


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New Robotic Skin Turns Everyday Objects into Moving Robots
Credit: Yale University

These makeshift robots can perform a wide variety of tasks.

Researchers from Yale University have reported a breakthrough in robotic skin technology. They have created new incredible robotic skins that can be easily wrapped around different objects and turn almost everything into a moving robot.

These skins are made from elastic sheets with sensors embedded in them. Once placed on an object, the skin squeezes certain places and allows user to remotely control its specific movements.

“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. We can then take those same skins off that object and put them on a shirt to make an active wearable device.” Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio, a professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Yale University, said.

In the lab, researchers wrapped the skin around many objects like a stuffed horse and showed how robotic skin enables the toy to walk across the surface. A foam cylinder wrapped with a skin was also able to move like a worm. These robotic skins are removable and can be used over and over again after the completion of a specific task with a certain object.

“Most robots are designed for a specific task, but a reconfigurable robot could potentially perform many tasks. This is when I thought of robotic skins.” Dr Kramer-Bottiglio said.

As the robotic skins are designed with no specific, single task in mind, they can be used in a wide variety of ways. They can perform multiple tasks, ranging from simple movement of a ball or balloon to a complex motion in a robotic arm or a soft rover for Mars.

“Given the design-on-the-fly nature of this approach, it's unlikely that a robot created using robotic skins will perform any one task optimally,” said Kramer-Bottiglio. “However, the goal is not optimization, but rather diversity of applications."

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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