Softer Hardware? Squishy Robots and Their Squishy Computers


Researchers at Harvard University found a way to incorporate soft robotics and hardware / Photo by: Hdehqani via Wikimedia Commons


In the field of robotics, one important advancement being studied is the use of soft robots or robots made of flexible materials.

A team of researchers at Harvard University has found a way to incorporate this need to introduce more flexible robots with the right hardware. According to Popular Science, the researchers intended to take the plunge on developing softer robots by addressing the fact that most equipment used to control these pieces of technology are still computers.

Since most of the industries are bound to see big technological breakthroughs in the production lines, for instance, the researchers’ studies will help support the productivity that the factories already have with the help of machines, but also minimize the damage that might be caused.

By putting in more soft robots that are essentially “squishy mechanoids,” the researchers will be able to help provide industries with “simple, durable, and long-lasting” soft robots that will also not pose any threat to human life.

According to Daniel Preston, an author in the study, the way they intend to introduce softer computers for better controls is actually build the soft robots (that are generally small) to scale, and equip them with the ability to make computations more efficient through higher airflow rates, which will travel through channels with an average size of one millimeter in diameter.

The report further reads: “The computer works on the same principles as any other: a series of gates that open and close, transferring information down pathways. In this case, the soft computer is made of silicon tubing and pressurized air. The air moving through ‘gates’ in the rubber acts in the same way as electricity does moving through the computer chips in your laptop or smartphone—it triggers inputs and outcomes at each stage in the rubber, thereby dictating the bot’s movements.”