27 Jan '15, 5pm

These Inflatable Pouch Motors Will Make Building Robots as Easy as Using Stickers

These Inflatable Pouch Motors Will Make Building Robots as Easy as Using Stickers

How easy is it to build a robot? Not very. How easy could it be to build a robot? Well, what if we try just sticking printable, inflatable actuators made of plastic onto origami (or anything else)? As Ryuma Niiyama and colleagues from the University of Tokyo and MIT have discovered, it really is that easy. We covered these “pouch motors” (or “free-form planar soft actuators,” if you want to get technical) last August, in the context of robots with the potential to be entirely printable . The actuators get printed on a custom-made fabrication machine that's nothing more than a 3-axis CNC holding a rod that can be heated, like a soldering iron. Moving the iron over two sheets of thermoplastic bonds them, leaving patterns of interlocking, inflatable pouches, and there’s your actuator. Hooking up a tube to the actuator with a syringe on one end allows the user to inflate and d...

Full article: http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hard...

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