Imagine a second skin that distorts on command and is filled with sensors. This is exactly what Purdue University researchers are trying to do when developing robotic tissue.
The concept of robotic tissue is that it consists of a soft exoskeleton or muscle tissue made from electronic sensors and shape memory alloys, woven and molded into a cotton material. The end result is a sort of «skin» that can be placed around deformable materials that give the «robot» its shape.
The end result is a kind of «muscle» tissue that allows the skin to be used in a variety of ways — to create instantaneous «worm» robots, as a tracksuit for people under high G-forces or loads, or even as a programmable medical device that can be made to match. with the needs of the patient.
Creation of robotic tissue
Traditionally, robots have always been built using the human body and its internal skeleton as a model. This usually means hinges where the joints will be, strong metal rods where the bones will be, and complex mechanics to achieve balance and agility while moving.
Doctoral students Doctoral students Michelle Yuen, Jennifer Case, Justin Seipel, Arun Sherian and Kramer published a paper presented at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems in September that turns this whole concept on its head. Instead of using an internal skeleton approach, these researchers have created a kind of robotic exoskeleton that can be used in many other ways than a traditional robot.
How to use robotic skin
The basic operation of the robot’s skin is similar to a human muscle or an inchworm’s cut. The shape memory alloy, which is screwed into the cotton fabric, can heat up when heated, causing the fabric to move in the desired direction, and the flexible polymer, combined with these threads, provides the ability to sense. Purdue University professor Rebecca Cramer, who led the research team, explained it on Purdue’s website as an external robot with the ability to actuate and sense command.
We have integrated both control and recognition, while most of the robotic tissues currently being developed only have sensors or other electronic components that use a conductive filament.
The study was funded through the NASA Early Career Award. This will undoubtedly be a technology useful in NASA space operations, as such a «soft robot» can be easily transported and manufactured in a remote environment such as the Moon or Mars with minimal effort. Such a robot will have low power consumption as it crawls or hides in a foreign environment. Connected sensors will be able to collect information about the environment.