5 Innovative Applications of Soft Robotics

5 Innovative Applications of Soft RoboticsSoft robots differ from industrial or collaborative robots in the fact that their construction is made of soft, malleable materials. Their construction is far different than any other form of robot, and likewise, soft robots perform very different functions.

For the most part, soft robots are still in the early stages of development, with the very first soft robot developed in 2011 by Harvard Professor George Whitesides. Since then, the number and types of soft robots have exploded. While they may be a few years away from true commercial viability, they are still an exciting technology with major disruptive potential.

5 Incredible Types of Soft Robots

There are many different types of soft robots, but there are 5 diverse applications that promise to have major commercial potential.

  1. Robotic Muscles: several types of soft robots are being developed to serve as robotic muscles. One of the most promising draws inspiration from origami. Its folded-up structure can lift 1,000 times its own weight and is scalable from a few millimeters to a meter long.
  2. Climbing Robots: these types of robots have potential applications ranging from the inspection and maintenance of buildings to search and rescue missions. One version of soft climbing robots has a bendy design, much like a caterpillar, that allows it to crawl up and down large structures.
  3. Edible Robots: this exciting creation was actually invented by a high school team in Philadelphia for the annual Soft Robotics competition. These biodegradable robots can safely deliver medicine to different parts of the body.
  4. Wearable Robots: these biomimetic devices can be applied to a patient undergoing physical rehabilitation. The soft robot mimics the natural movement of the body wherever it is placed, helping the patient restore normal motor functions.
  5. Prosthetic Robots: Soft robots can be used to create superior prosthetics for those missing limbs or extremities. Often, soft robotics technology is used for grippers at the end of a prosthetic arm for more delicate and accurate grasping of objects.

Soft robots are an exciting innovation in the world of robotics. The five types of soft robots above may have the most commercial potential out of all the types of soft robots currently in development.

Different from industrial or collaborative robots, soft robots serve a diverse range of applications that are often outside of the possibilities of industrial or collaborative robots.