Acquired Electronics360

Industrial Electronics

Video: Soft Robots that Can Self-Heal

18 August 2017

Soft robots that are built to heal much the way a human heals. Source: VUBSoft robots that are built to heal much the way a human heals. Source: VUB

The human body has an amazing way to heal from injuries over time. Cut your hand, tear a muscle, break a bone and it typically returns to normal use over the course of time and treatment.

Now, researchers at Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) in Belgium are applying this same principle to soft robots developing mechanisms for these machines to self-heal.

Soft robots are made of flexible materials that allow these machines to be used for numerous applications to grab delicate and soft objects in the food industry, during minimally invasive surgery or used in rehabilitation and arm prostheses. However, because they are made of soft materials, they are susceptible to damage caused by sharp objects or excessive pressure. These damaged components must be replaced or simply thrown away.

Researchers at VUB believe the new method enables soft robots to completely heal from such damage. The robots are made of rubbery polymers with built-in healing capacity, and, when damaged, the materials first recover their original shape and then heal completely.

The principle was applied to three robots: a gripper, a robotic hand and an artificial muscle. Under controlled conditions, these pneumatic components were damaged to test if the principle works in practice. The results were that the realistic damage could be healed completely without leaving any weak spots. After healing, the prototypes resumed their tasks.

“The outcome of the research opens up promising perspectives,” says Prof. Bram Vanderborght, a researcher at VUB. “Robots can not only be made lighter and safer, they will also be able to work longer independently without requiring constant repairs.”

The full research can be found in the journal Science Robotics.

To contact the author of this article, email Peter.Brown@ieeeglobalspec.com


Powered by CR4, the Engineering Community

Discussion – 0 comments

By posting a comment you confirm that you have read and accept our Posting Rules and Terms of Use.
Engineering Newsletter Signup
Get the Engineering360
Stay up to date on:
Features the top stories, latest news, charts, insights and more on the end-to-end electronics value chain.
Advertisement
Weekly Newsletter
Get news, research, and analysis
on the Electronics industry in your
inbox every week - for FREE
Sign up for our FREE eNewsletter
Advertisement

CALENDAR OF EVENTS

Date Event Location
30 Nov-01 Dec 2017 Helsinki, Finland
23-27 Apr 2018 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
18-22 Jun 2018 Honolulu, Hawaii
Find Free Electronics Datasheets
Advertisement