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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 confused one ( 671304 ) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @03:41AM (#46777141)

    Sure.... attacked by a 500 lb Kevlar reinforced pillow that can wrap around a body and sqeeze it until it pops like a zit.

    OK, some of the search and rescue applications using the soft robots are a great idea; and, robots, in general, are useful tools. But a robot is a machine. Machines break. Computers malfunction. A small S&R robot has a small but measurable risk profile. If it's in a med-surgical application then it has the ability to do damage to the body of either the patient or the attending medical staff, should it malfunction. If it can perform industrial tasks, like lifting a car, then it can equally as well crush a person. One cannot say, "Look, it's soft and squishy" and ignore safety factors.

Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will be dear to you. -- Thomas Jefferson