The world of robotics keeps evolving and scientists cannot get enough of it. Robots have come so far, from experiments to being mere entertainment machines, and now people are facing the risk of having to give up their jobs to robots because they are practically better and more efficient at performing human functions, especially at the work place.
When it seemed that robot economics could possibly be the end of the so called ‘robot take over’, the overly innovative scientists who create robots kept on working hard at making sure that each robot is better than the last one. And sure enough, they nailed that goal when the invention of soft robotics took place.
Why there is a need for soft robotics.
We live in an unconventional world that is made out of unstructured environments. Needless to say, the world is no place for hard, rigid and structured robots. Sure, cars and buildings among other things, are made just as hard and rigid, and almost with the same materials as robots. the only difference is that robots are meant to interact with humans, mimic all our movements and activities as well as improve on them. This should explain why people feel quite threatened by robots.
Therefore, scientists have found the need to modify the traditional way of the manufacture of robots such as the industrial robot arm, in order to help them fit in more with the kind of environment they are now being created for. That is to mean, collaborative robots used mostly in the workplace, and care giving robots for the elderly and people with special needs are in the lineup for this modification.
What is meant by soft robotics
Soft robotics entails the creation of robots that are basically more flexible than the traditional robot. This means that scientists will have to use some materials that would be considered unconventional in the manufacturing of robotic systems. Scientist have experimented with polymer based materials, which are then used with actuators and sensory devices. Once the soft materials are examined for compatibility, scientists are then able to integrate them into various kinds of micro robots.
For a long time, the only deformable material used in robots were impact absorbing rubbers, springs as well as dampers. This coupled with the metal based material primarily used throughout the body of a robot provide little to no room for the robot to manipulate the things they handle, the way a human being or animal normally would. This is essentially what gave rise to the need of soft robotics.
The potential for soft robotics in the modern world
Soft robotics will make it possible for robots to re configure its morphology, much like an animal would when it stretches, digs, coils and uncoils as well as how it feeds and cleans itself. In as much as these seem as very basic functions, an ordinary robot would not be able to do any of these things as instinctively as an animal would if it can perform the function at all.
When robots are built with these flexible abilities, their performance will become even more efficient especially in the manufacturing and medicine industries. Now that robots are considered to be more economical to use as compared to human labor, designing them with the ability to function in the same way as the human hand will increase the functions designed to be performed by robots and therefore their demand in general.
There cannot be a more perfect time for scientists to become innovative in the field of robotics. With articulated robots and collaborative robots already threatening to take over quite a number of jobs that have been performed by humans through the years, soft robotics just increases this need to replace human labor and even speeds up the process of this take over. Nothing less can be expected when a robot can be able to manipulate different things with varying weight, size and shape.