Volume 3 Issue 6, June 2018

Volume 3 Issue 6

The field of soft robotics aims to develop soft, compliant robots to interact with humans or to perform autonomous tasks. In this issue, our collection of articles looks in depth at bioinspired and other design concepts, soft materials, fabrication techniques, biomedical applications and the future challenges.

Image: Lori K. Sanders, Michael Wehner, Ryan L. Truby.

Editorial

  • Editorial |

    Materials and technologies used to make soft robots that can safely interact with humans are avidly explored. A wealth of applications are in reach for soft robots but a number of challenges remain.

    Focus:

Research Highlights

Comment

  • Comment |

    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

    Focus:

  • Comment |

    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

    Focus:

  • Comment |

    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

    Focus:

Reviews

  • Review Article |

    3D printing can be used to directly fabricate soft robots. This Review discusses advances in 3D printing technologies and soft materials for the fabrication of soft robotic systems with sophisticated capabilities, such as 3D movement and responsiveness to the environment.

    • T. J. Wallin
    • , J. Pikul
    •  & R. F. Shepherd

    Focus:

  • Review Article |

    Inspired by biological systems, engineers are exploring origami folding with smart material actuation to enable intrinsically actuated designs with complex functionalities and easy fabrication. This Review highlights recent advances in the design, fabrication and control of these origami robots.

    • Daniela Rus
    •  & Michael T. Tolley

    Focus:

  • Review Article |

    Microrobots are envisioned to revolutionize microsurgery and targeted drug delivery. Their design, operation, locomotion and interaction with the environment are inspired by microorganisms. This Review highlights soft, responsive and active materials for the development of (semi-)autonomous microrobots.

    • Stefano Palagi
    •  & Peer Fischer

    Focus:

  • Review Article |

    Hydrogel ionotronics employ hydrogels as stretchable, transparent, ionic conductors for the development of ionotronic devices, such as artificial muscles, skins and axons. This Review discusses the mechanical properties and chemistry of materials for hydrogel ionotronic devices and highlights possible applications.

    • Canhui Yang
    •  & Zhigang Suo

    Focus:

  • Review Article |

    Soft robots have broad applications in medicine. In this Review, biomedical applications, including surgery, drug delivery, prostheses, wearable devices and artificial organs, are discussed in the context of materials, actuation strategies and challenges.

    • Matteo Cianchetti
    • , Cecilia Laschi
    • , Arianna Menciassi
    •  & Paolo Dario

    Focus: