Designing a soft robot to move organically -- to bend like a finger or twist like a wrist -- has always been a process of trial and error. Now, researchers have developed a method to automatically design soft actuators based on the desired movement according to Science daily.
"Rather than designing these actuators empirically, we wanted a tool where you could plug in a motion and it would tell you how to design the actuator to achieve that motion," said Katia Bertoldi, the John L. Loeb Associate Professor.
Designing a soft robot that can bend like a finger or knee may seem simple but the motion is actually incredibly complex.
"The design is so complicated because one actuator type is not enough to produce complex motions," said Fionnuala Connolly, a graduate student. "You need a sequence of actuator segments, each performing a different motion and you want to actuate them using a single input."