The Future is Here! What is Soft Robotics?

Bioinformatics and ROS for Robot Arm Specialization Courses
| Phi Science
Manar Mahmoud
Manar Mahmoud
April 25, 2022

Robots are machines intended to perform tasks in the service of human beings, and so they are used in many tasks and scenarios.

As science and technology help each other advance, we can notice that the study of living organisms, sheds light on principles that are fruitfully adopted to develop additional robot abilities and to facilitate more efficient accomplishment of tasks, such as the principles applied to soft robotics.

What is Soft Robotics?

The term “soft robotics” was formerly used to indicate robots with rigid links and mechanically compliant joints with variable stiffness, but nowadays, it describes robots with soft and flexible materials mimicking locomotion mechanisms of soft bodies existing in nature to achieve smooth and complex motion.

Bio Hybrid Soft Robotics

Bio hybrid soft robots combining living actuation and synthetic components are an emerging field in the development of advanced actuators and other robotic platforms.

The integration of biological components offers unique properties such as adaptability and response to external stimuli that artificial materials cannot have with that accuracy.

As we mentioned previously, these robots are considered combinations of living and synthetic materials.

The soft materials used in this case are living cells and a mixture of different proteins that mimic their natural environment which are patterned by a 3D printer. (The use of the 3D printing technique provided high versatility and fast prototyping, allowing the design and optimization of different configurations of the artificial skeleton).

Those cells could be for example: insect cells, plant cells, mammalian cardiomyocytes or skeletal cells.

For more clarification: skeletal cells fuse together to form muscle fibers capable of producing motion, they remodel their essential environment and form a muscle that can contractile after being stimulated electrically, then it is inserted to an exoskeletal that is deformed whenever the muscle contracts.

Bio Hybrid Soft Robotics Advantages

Bio hybrid soft robots combine the best features among the biological systems and artificial ones, which is because:

  • They provide entirely new aspects such as self-healing of robots.
  • They have a sense of soft touch.
  • They adapt to new environments.
  • The integration between these two systems enables the realization of untethered functions depending on cells’ chemical energy.
  • They are lightweight.
  • They require little energy for actuation.

Bio Hybrid Soft Robotics Future in The Medical Field

A group of scientists from Nile University published a research about a bio hybrid soft robot called E-skin which is a Tactile sensing bio hybrid soft robot based on bioimpedance.

The tactile sensing feature is augmented using Aloe Vera pulp tissues, where the change in its bioimpedance is related to the amount of force exerted on the E-skin surface.

The bio hybrid E-skin employs high biomimicry as the sensorial output is an oscillating signal like the signals sent from the human sensing neurons to the brain.

Other scientists are working towards using the skeletal muscle developed in the lab for those robots as a potential implant to replace skeletal muscle that has been lost due to disease or damage.

Manar Mahmoud

An undergraduate pharmacy student with an intense level of curiosity in science and technology.

The Future is Here! What is Soft Robotics?

My story with Phi
Bioinformatics and ROS for Robot Arm Specialization Courses
| Phi Science
Manar Mahmoud
April 25, 2022

Robots are machines intended to perform tasks in the service of human beings, and so they are used in many tasks and scenarios.

As science and technology help each other advance, we can notice that the study of living organisms, sheds light on principles that are fruitfully adopted to develop additional robot abilities and to facilitate more efficient accomplishment of tasks, such as the principles applied to soft robotics.

What is Soft Robotics?

The term “soft robotics” was formerly used to indicate robots with rigid links and mechanically compliant joints with variable stiffness, but nowadays, it describes robots with soft and flexible materials mimicking locomotion mechanisms of soft bodies existing in nature to achieve smooth and complex motion.

Bio Hybrid Soft Robotics

Bio hybrid soft robots combining living actuation and synthetic components are an emerging field in the development of advanced actuators and other robotic platforms.

The integration of biological components offers unique properties such as adaptability and response to external stimuli that artificial materials cannot have with that accuracy.

As we mentioned previously, these robots are considered combinations of living and synthetic materials.

The soft materials used in this case are living cells and a mixture of different proteins that mimic their natural environment which are patterned by a 3D printer. (The use of the 3D printing technique provided high versatility and fast prototyping, allowing the design and optimization of different configurations of the artificial skeleton).

Those cells could be for example: insect cells, plant cells, mammalian cardiomyocytes or skeletal cells.

For more clarification: skeletal cells fuse together to form muscle fibers capable of producing motion, they remodel their essential environment and form a muscle that can contractile after being stimulated electrically, then it is inserted to an exoskeletal that is deformed whenever the muscle contracts.

Bio Hybrid Soft Robotics Advantages

Bio hybrid soft robots combine the best features among the biological systems and artificial ones, which is because:

  • They provide entirely new aspects such as self-healing of robots.
  • They have a sense of soft touch.
  • They adapt to new environments.
  • The integration between these two systems enables the realization of untethered functions depending on cells’ chemical energy.
  • They are lightweight.
  • They require little energy for actuation.

Bio Hybrid Soft Robotics Future in The Medical Field

A group of scientists from Nile University published a research about a bio hybrid soft robot called E-skin which is a Tactile sensing bio hybrid soft robot based on bioimpedance.

The tactile sensing feature is augmented using Aloe Vera pulp tissues, where the change in its bioimpedance is related to the amount of force exerted on the E-skin surface.

The bio hybrid E-skin employs high biomimicry as the sensorial output is an oscillating signal like the signals sent from the human sensing neurons to the brain.

Other scientists are working towards using the skeletal muscle developed in the lab for those robots as a potential implant to replace skeletal muscle that has been lost due to disease or damage.

Bana-img

Manar Mahmoud

An undergraduate pharmacy student with an intense level of curiosity in science and technology.