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What are soft robots?

Published: 7th Jun, 2022


  • Soft robots are robots that are flexible and unlike their hard-edged cousins can be used to perform more delicate manoeuvres, such as reaching into difficult crevices or holding onto delicate objects.
  • Such robots are usually made of liquid crystal elastomers, which are polymers having viscosity and elasticity. 
  • Soft robots are primarily composed of easily deformable matter such as fluids, gels, and elastomers that can match certain materials, in a process called compliance matching.
  • Compliance matching is the principle that materials that come into contact with each other should share similar mechanical rigidity in order to evenly distribute internal load and minimize interfacial stress concentrations.

Comparison of soft robotics vs classic robotics

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  • Achieve complex motion
  • Collision avoidance: absorb impacts, prevent injury
  • Elastically deformable and soft
  • Adaptable shape
  • Multifunctional
  • Compatible for human interaction (biocompatible and compliant)
  • Same elastic and rheological properties as soft biological matter (compliance matching)
  • Low cost materials
  • Difficult to control
  • Less powerful and precise than rigid robots
  • Support equipment (hardware) kept off-board: limit motion and autonomy
  • Today’s electronics are not adapted (rigid supports)

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