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The Squishy Future of Robotics 36

An anonymous reader writes "The field of soft robotics is fast growing and may be the key to allowing robots and humans to work side-by-side. 'Roboticists are prejudiced toward rigid structures, for which algorithms can be inherited from the well-established factory robot industry. Soft robots solve two huge problems with current robots, however. They don't have to calculate their movements as precisely as hard robots, which rely on springs and joints, making them better for navigating uncontrolled environments like a house, disaster area, or hospital room. They're naturally "cage free," meaning they can work shoulder-to-shoulder with humans. If a soft robot tips over or malfunctions, the danger is on par with being attacked by a pillow. The robot is also less prone to hurt itself.'"
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The Squishy Future of Robotics

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17, 2014 @04:06AM (#46777385)

    It's not a question of a robot being soft. It's a question of

    1) having force feedback and not exerting too much force,
    2) avoiding high energy collisions.

    Ergo, the robot should be light weigt, low power, and equipped with force sensors. There're robots like this on the market. And these robots are already certified safe to be used without a cage. Look for Universal Robots, for instance.

    The problem with such robots is very low payload. Typically, it's 3-5 kg max. It may be helpful in the kitchen, but not much elsewhere.

    On the other hand, equip a pillow with a 8 kW motor, and you have 10 horses kicking.

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