First ever 3D printed jumping soft robot (w/ Video)
3D printing and robots are two things eager to change the future of human race. So, when researchers combine robotics and 3D printing to arrive at a 3D printed robot with rigid core and a very soft exterior, we can believe the future is not distant. Engineers at the Harvard and California University in San Diego have teamed up to create, what is, the first 3D printed soft robot that can jump with power gathered from a mix of butane and oxygen.
Developed by Nicholas Bartlett, Ph.D. student at the Wyss Institute at Harvard and Michael Tolley, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at University of California; the robot is made in nine finely blended layers of printed materials. These include soft rubber and rigid metal.
The soft, jumping robot is made in two halves. The top half is rigid, roll cage-style and secure the main units of the robot including, battery, pump, circuit board and battery. The lower half is made of soft layers which make the robot less vulnerable at landing after a jump.
Explaining the purpose of blending rigid and soft materials together in construction of the robot, Michael Tolley says,
We believe that bringing together soft and rigid materials will help create a new generation of fast, agile robots that are more robust and adaptable than their predecessors and can safely work side by side with humans.
The 3D-printed soft robot’s jumps and explained are powered by a mix of butane and oxygen. The bottom half of the robot is flexible and features a small chamber where the two gases are injected to make the robot jump. When gases within the chamber ignite, the bottom half of the robot inflates and propels the robot to make a leap. As the chemical charge exhausts, the robot returns to its original shape. The robot has been tested to jump over a 100 times. It can jump half feet high and half a foot on either side, and can also survive fall from four feet.