Importance of Natural Resources

The Age of Soft Robots Is Coming, Here’s How They Work

When you imagine the robots of the future
what do you picture? Humanoids made of steel? Massive metal monsters? Turns out, they might be a little squishier. If you haven’t noticed, evolution of biological
life has done a pretty good job at making things perfectly equipped to interact with
our world. And now, robotics is starting to follow suit,
in an emerging field called soft robotics. You’ve probably seen this little guy from
MIT swimming through your social media timelines. Look at him go! This autonomous fishbot can swim right alongside
marine life, giving biologists a whole new way to observe this ecosystem. And there’s other tech helping scientists
study the ocean, like this underwater microphone aboard the Seeker Vessel! Long distance swimmer Ben Lecomte and crew
are on an expedition to gather data to raise awareness about ocean health. Their hydrophone records the secret sounds
of the deep. Hydrophones and soft robots could be important
conservation tools in the future, because they’re uniquely suited to work with their
environment. And these bots in particular draw inspiration
from nature for their designs. But before I get into all that, let’s tackle
how these squishy bots actually work in the first place. The main characteristic of a soft robot is
that, well, it’s soft. Instead of traditional materials, the body
is constructed out of rubber, polymers, and sometimes even fabric. But it’s harder to adapt the components
that make the bot move, like the actuators – These have to be radically rethought for
soft bots, since traditional robots tend to use electric motors that are difficult to
downsize. So, instead some use hydraulics or pneumatics
to push air or water through the soft body parts in a way that creates predictable motion. Others use shape memory alloys that change
shape when exposed to heat, so when a limb is heated, it will unfurl or coil up in a
particular way. Some researchers are even looking into replacing
actuators with soft, LIVING MUSCLES, which is [WHOA], and, a whole video of its own. When it comes to the power source, some of
these guys- like our friendly robo fish – rely on small lithium ion batteries. But there’s also a lot of experimentation
in this part of the field – from hydrogel batteries (which we’ve covered on the channel
before) to ditching batteries all together and using chemical energy from hydrocarbons. But, soft robotics still has some limitations. Many robots still require tethers to electrical
or pneumatic devices because we haven’t figured out how to integrate these onboard
the robot, just yet. That hasn’t stopped engineers from tinkering
with new robots, and there are some really cool ones in action! One such example is the octopus robot from
BioRobotics. Inspired by the squishy but strong nature
of octopus tentacles, This robot uses synthetic arms that rely on shape memory alloys to grasp,
and even crawl- allowing the robot to travel underwater. Octopuses have also inspired gripping robots,like
this one from Harvard- that can gently pick up marine life from the ocean floor so biologists
can study them. What makes all of these robots so promising
is the way they easily adapt to new tasks and environments, unlike traditional robots
that would need to be frequently modified or reprogrammed. This also means they have a ton of applications. They could one day be used in rescue missions
that require squeezing through small spaces and traversing over rugged terrain. Or these soft, biocompatible robots could
be used inside your body for medical diagnosis & treatment. To be honest, I’m kind of surprised it’s
taken us this long to start making soft robots. I mean when you look at animals–which are
debatably the best examples we have for adapting to new environments — they’re pretty much
all soft! Humans ourselves are less than 15% rigid material! But, I suppose, biological evolution did take
millions of years, and to be fair, robot evolution has only just begun. To stay up to date with the latest soft robot
updates, subscribe! And to check out the crazy sounds Ben and
his crew recorded with their hydrophone- watch their latest episode here. This data will help us learn about our largest
ocean’s marine life AND help us to protect it! Can’t get much cooler than that. Thanks for watching.

Reader Comments

  1. Hey, squishy Seeker humans! As some of you have astutely pointed out, the elephant featured towards the end of this episode (3:23) appears to have 5 legs. Turns out besides being exceptionally large, elephant penises are also prehensile and have been observed being used to swat flies, itch a scratch, and even as a 5th leg! The more you know, I guess? 😳

    For more on the science of male anatomy- check out Julian’s video about the science of the baculum (a.k.a. the penis bone) here –

  2. It's called Bio-Droids. Almost every race in this universe has one. Some of you have seen some, what you call Greys. Though not all Greys are Bio-Droids. Orions gave you some of this tech in the 1980's and you have been reverse engineering ever since. Some of your big businesses are moving to store info in DNA like Facebook, Google, Apple, Twitter, intel, EA, etc… This is the type of tech more advanced civilizations use. Then the next step will be crystal tech, but that won't be for some time. Oh, enjoy your transition just stay away from fault lines and volcanos. o 0 o

  3. biotech is the future. Other retards need to adapt or get tf out of our systems. Dont invest in metallic empty boxes.

  4. Question to Maren Hunsberger

    When you guys film, is one person assigned to, lets say three videos, and that person is then filmed narrating them all in one day?

    Because well, I've noticed that you Maren, are wearing the same outfit that you wore in your video "How Much Heat Can Your Body Take Before You Die."

    Btw, you are VERY attractive 😉 lol

  5. Someday people will buy this fake fish thinking it is delicious to eat just to realize that it is a product of China. Someday even vegetables will be made this way and people will die because of eating electronics they will shit electronics

  6. I dont want to see what soft robots looks like.. Looks squishy? And fluffy? Hmmm. I don't want to know what it would look like..

  7. Soft peaceful women artists and scientits that makes them irrestistible it is facinating robots to conserve nature robots and artificial intelligence especially for education with UI UX Working together with Javascript either with the webgĺ or react.js like Maren fantasy the reality of matter and antimatter alive for a positive and fun way of living

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