Image:-Inspired by the biomechanics of cheetahs, researchers have developed a new type of soft robot that is capable of moving more quickly on solid surfaces. Credit: Jie Yin, NC State University
Until now, the fastest soft robots could move on flat, solid surfaces at speeds up to 0.8 body lengths per second, the report said.
The new class of soft robots, called "Leveraging Elastic Instabilities for Amplified Performance" (LEAP), is capable of reaching speeds of up to 2.7 body lengths per second - more than three times faster - at a low 3Hz frequency.
These new robots can also run steep slopes, which can be challenging or impossible for soft robots that exert less force on the ground.
These LEAP robots "galloping" are about 7 centimeters long, and weigh about 45 grams, the report said.
The researchers have also shown that the LEAP design could improve soft robots' swimming speeds.
Attaching a fin instead of feet, a LEAP robot was able to swim at a speed of 0.78 body lengths per second, compared to 0.7 body lengths per second for the previous fastest soft robot, the report said.
"We also demonstrated the use of several soft robots working together to grab objects, such as pincers," Yin says. "We were able to lift objects as delicate as an egg, and objects weighing 10 kilograms or more, by tuning the force exerted by the robots."
The researchers note that this work serves as concept proof, and are optimistic that they can modify the design to make LEAP robots even faster and more powerful.
"Potential applications include search and rescue technology, where speed is essential, and robotics in industrial production," Yin says. "Imagine production line robotics, for example, that are quicker but still capable of handling fragile objects."
Jamaica's Usain Bolt is still the fastest man on earth with a sizzling 9.58 seconds holding the current world record of the 100 metres.
But even Bolt wouldn't stand a chance against a cheetah in Africa. The latter is the fastest land animal which can run 93 km / h in short bursts. As such, it has several speed adjustments including a light-built, long thin legs and a long tail.
Inspired by the biomechanics of the cheetahs, researchers have now developed a new type of soft robot that can move faster on solid surfaces or in water than previous generations of soft robots, according to Tech Explore.
The new soft robotics are also capable of delicately grabbing objects - or lifting heavy objects with a sufficient force.
"Cheetahs are the fastest creatures on earth, and they derive their speed and power from flexing their spines," says Jie Yin, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at North Carolina State University and the corresponding author of a paper on the new soft robots.
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