Updated 8:44 AM EDT, Wed, Aug 18, 2021

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Soft Robotics 'Toolkit' Provides Essentials for Engineering Robots

Soft Robotics

(Photo : Harvard SEAS/ Eliza Grinnel) Soft Robotics Toolkit

A team of researchers from labs at Harvard University in partnership with Trinity College Dublin have unveiled a set of intellectual raw materials required to plan, construct and run robots made from soft and flexible substances.

Advances in manufacturing technologies such as laser cutting equipment and cheap 3D printing are making the field of soft robotics more prominent, according to

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Using flexible materials and concepts taken from the common rigid design of robots, robotics engineers are pioneering the application of soft robotics for assisting in a wide range of duties. These include minimal invasive surgery, physical therapy and search-and-rescue missions in dire environments.

The Soft Robotics Toolkit is an online catalogue of downloadable, open-source blueprints, video tutorials and case studies to aid users design, fabricate, model, categorize and control soft robots.

It offers researchers a level of in-depth detail not usually seen in the academic studies, including the cost of materials, raw experimental data, 3D models, step-by-step tutorials on various media and research on the numerous existing soft robot designs.

"The goal of the toolkit is to advance the field of soft robotics by allowing designers and researchers to build upon each other's work," said Conor Walsh, Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and a core faculty member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.

The developers of the online toolkit hope to encourage the genesis of new types of tools, methods and soft devices through the creation of a common resource for sharing design approaches, technical knowledge and fabrication and prototyping techniques.

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