Actuators are the input and output devices that connect electronic, hydraulic or pneumatic control systems to their environment. They convert external forces or conditions, such as temperature, into a form that can be processed by the control system, and vice versa. Examples include electrical motors or pneumatic pistons.

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News and Comment

  • News and Views |

    An elastomer sheet with programmed inner channel architecture swiftly shapes into a desired three-dimensional geometry upon the application of pressure.

    • Efi Efrati
  • Comments and Opinion |

    The field of soft wearable robotics offers the opportunity to wear robots like clothes to assist the movement of specific body parts or to endow the body with functionalities. Collaborative efforts of materials, apparel and robotics science have already led to the development of wearable technologies for physical therapy. Optimizing the human–robot system by human-in-the-loop approaches will pave the way for personalized soft wearable robots for a variety of applications.

    • Conor Walsh
  • Comments and Opinion |

    Soft robots promise solutions for a wide range of applications that cannot be achieved with traditional, rigid-component robots. A key challenge is the creation of robotic structures that can vary their stiffness at will, for example, by using antagonistic actuators, to optimize their interaction with the environment and be able to exert high forces.

    • Kaspar Althoefer
  • Comments and Opinion |

    Soft small robots offer the opportunity to non-invasively access human tissue to perform medical operations and deliver drugs; however, challenges in materials design, biocompatibility and function control remain to be overcome for soft robots to reach the clinic.

    • Metin Sitti