The Science Report has recently published a material science paper describing a soft robotic gripper that can manipulate small, delicate objects. In biomedical applications or in some operations that require tissue to be well-preserved, such robots can reach the designated location in the body through blood vessels, etc., and would be an ideal tool.
The manufacture of flexible robots is inspired by biological systems, such as tentacles, and the great potential of such machines is the ability to safely grasp or hold vulnerable targets. But for the manufacturing industry, manufacturing softness is harder than building stiffness, because most of the engineering is based on hard materials, and the technology to build flexible structures is relatively lagging. It is not easy for engineers to create controllable flexible robots, and applying them to very small sizes is even more challenging. Previous attempts have only made it possible to create a tentacle that can do multi-turn spiral motion at the centimeter level, and the strength and size are not satisfactory.
This time, the new method developed by Jin Zaiyuan, a scientist at Iowa State University, and his research team, can create very tiny robotic tentacles. This tentacle can catch the target without destroying the small object, such as the capelin (a fish with a body length of no more than 8 cm), and if it is hard, it will easily lead to the egg. Deformation or rupture. The researchers also used this tentacle to grab and hold the ants (the entire waist is 400 microns in diameter) without damaging their torso.
Lifelike soft robotic grippers are not uncommon, but the authors suggest that the new machine tentacles can be a good tool for microsurgery, such as in a microscopic fit. Invasive surgery - In intraluminal surgery, this soft tool can pass through body tissues, reach the target area of the operation, and perform observation and surgical tasks.