Soft Robots

A research group at MIT has created a new class of fast-acting, soft robots from hydrogels. The robots are activated by pumping water in or out of hollow, interlocking chambers; depending on the configuration, this can curl or stretch parts of the robot. The hydrogel bots can move quickly enough to catch and release a live fish without harming it. (Which is a feat of speed I can’t even manage.) Because hydrogels are polymer gels consisting primarily of water, the robots could be especially helpful in biomedical applications, where their components may be less likely to be rejected by the body. For more, see MIT News or the original paper. (Image credit: H. Yuk/MIT News, source; research credit: H. Yuk et al.)

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