Soft robots seems like an oxymoron. Robots are supposed to be made of metal. Metal is hard, therefore a robot can’t be soft right? Maybe soft refers to a robot’s demeanor rather than a physical characteristic. You know, like a robot mom who doesn’t ground her robot son when he’s late for curfew would be a soft robot. Maybe in the future, if robots are capable of varying levels of sympathy and forgiveness, soft robot could be an ambiguous term, but as of now, it really does just refer to the physical properties of a robot.
Most people are familiar with one type of robot. The kind of robot that you can find in science fiction, imaginations, and in factories. Robots that are made of heavy, glinting chunks of the hard stuff – metal. For a long time, that’s exactly what robots were made out of. However, soft robots are made out of squishy, malleable materials rather than rigid metals or alloys.
Soft robotics is a field of discovery that is growing at an incredible rate, and accessibility is hugely important to that growth. Soft robots can be printed at home using silicone rubber, a downloadable file, and a 3-D Printer. Basically, anyone who really wants to get into soft robotics can.
Soft Robotics Toolkit is a site that has everything you need to try your hand at soft robotics. It’s “a collection of shared resources to support the design, fabrication, modeling, characterization, and control of soft robotic devices”. You could be an absolute novice, go to the site and, assuming you have the right equipment, build a working soft robot.
Soft Robotics Toolkit gives you the rundown on actuators, sensors, and controls. Of course, if you’re savvy with Indramat servo motors, you’ve already got an understanding of theses things. With that know-how building your own soft robot would be a breeze!