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A troop introduces 3D printing to create soft robotic hand

siliconreview A troop introduces 3D printing to create soft robotic hand

Robots have overtaken humans these days; it has become a big sigh of relief to all humans with this automated machine which makes its presence feel everywhere. Robots also can change tasks as per the devices that have been modified.

Though robots are used widely in industries but they are also popular in other fields like agriculture, nuclear energy, fire fighting, mining, undersea exploration, space exploration, medical applications and many more…. Now we speak about a distinct featured robot….. Stay with us for more…

We have seen many robots grasping and tactile sensing via motorized means which is extensively bulky. A Cornell group designed a soft robot just as similar to humans…. Sorry no misconceptions! Not in physical features but, internal features… just as humans do.

A group pioneered by Robert Shepherd, assistant professor, mechanical engineering proclaimed a paper presentation describing how stretchable optical waveguides act as curvature, elongation and force sensors in a soft robotic hand.

"Most robots today have sensors on the outside of the body that detects things from the surface," said doctoral student Huichan Zhao. The group used its optoelectronic prosthesis to perform a variety of tasks, including grasping and probing for both shape and texture. Most notably, the hand was able to scan three tomatoes and determine, by softness, which was the ripest. 

This work was supported by a grant from Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and made use of the Cornell NanoScale Science and Technology Facility and the Cornell Center for Materials Research, both of which are supported by the National Science Foundation.

Cornell group used 3D printing to design soft robotic hand. The device designed by Cornell is very unique which uses external tips of its fingers to retrieve information as similar to what humans do and also feelings actually is a photocopy of a human being.

Huichan Zhao said “Our sensors are integrated within the body, so they can actually detect forces being transmitted through the thickness of the robot, a lot like we and all organisms do when we feel pain, for example.”

A clever system was adopted by the researchers wherein, robots used to sense its surroundings through light. As the soft robotic hand deforms, more light is lost through the core, and that loss of light is detected by a photodiode. The team embraced a four-step soft lithography process to produce the light that passes through and the outer surface of the waveguide.

Although able to process data just like a human hand, it is essentially the presence or absence of light which enables the device to understand the surfaces it touches.

Future work on optical waveguides in soft robotics will focus on increased sensory capabilities, in part by 3-D printing more complex sensor shapes, and by incorporating machine learning as a way of decoupling signals from an increased number of sensors.