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  /  Latest News   /  These Soft and Twisted Robots can Navigate through Mazes Without Your Help!
These Soft and Twisted Robots can Navigate through Mazes Without Your Help!

These Soft and Twisted Robots can Navigate through Mazes Without Your Help!

Researchers have developed twisted robots that are capable of navigating through complex environments without any help

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of Pennsylvania have developed soft and twisted robots that are capable of navigating complex environments, such as mazes, without input from humans or computer software. Soft robots are engineered mobile machines that are largely constructed from soft materials and can be made to assist surgeries due to their shape-changing properties. Soft robotics is a growing field that relies on mimicking locomotion mechanisms of soft bodies existing in nature to achieve smooth and complex motion.


Soft and Twisted Robots

These soft robots demonstrate a concept called physical intelligence. Structural designs and smart materials allow the soft robot to navigate various situations, as opposed to computational intelligence. Walking soft robots are usually quadrupedal and move by rhythmically inflating and deflating each leg. Interactions with soft materials are widely spread, for instance with natural skin, muscle tissue, delicate internal organs, but also organisms, artificial replications of biological functionalities, etc.

The researchers conducted multiple experiments demonstrating that the ribbon-like soft robot is capable of navigating a variety of maze-like environments. The researchers also demonstrated that the soft robots would work well in desert environments, showing they were capable of climbing and descending slopes of loose sand. The soft robot is created in a twisted ribbon shape and is capable of negotiating these obstacles with no human or computer intervention whatsoever.

Most traditional robots are constructed from stiff materials such as steel, aluminum, and ABS plastic. They are usually powered directly by electric motors or by pumps forcing hydraulic fluids through rigid tubes. This is interesting, and fun to look at, but more importantly, it provides new insights into how researchers can design soft robots capable of harvesting heat energy from natural environments and autonomously negotiating complex, unstructured settings such as roads and harsh deserts.