Tag Archives: robotics

Robots are going soft in their new age…

This month researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) shared a way to 3D print robots with advanced shock absorbing materials, so that robots can be safer to use and more accurate in their movement.

It uses a Programmable Viscoelastic Material (PVM) that allows the originator of the 3D print file to program the movement and elasticity of each area of the design.

It’s particularly interesting when you think about ‘soft robots’ being created for use in exoskeletal rehabilitation, my knee replacement in a few years just got much more appealing…

But more importantly it really demonstrates just how quickly robotics is moving forwards, we have robotic caterpillars that use liquid crystal elastometer tech, a walking soft robot  and as if that wasn’t enough check this little guy out…

autobot

Octobot is the first autonomous, untethered entirely soft 3D printed robot!

The Harvard team behind this derived a way to power the Octobot through a chemical reaction controlled through a logic board. They describe this as a ‘hybrid assembly approach’ whereby they create each of the components; circuit board, control panel, fuel storage, power component and fabricate the cushioning exterior using; 3D printing, molding and soft lithography methods.

Mind bending.

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My Dad is a microwave blender

The only real reason that robots haven’t replaced us yet is simply that robotic engineers can’t program all the knowledge currently required into a robot quick enough. As humans we adapt and learn every second of every day, therefore the sheer magnitude of possibilities a human brain provides excels any manufactured equivalent to date.

What we have seen though is that once configured, current robots in use are quicker, more efficient and less prone to accident. Amazon already have factories with considerably less error where robots are deployed, some Governments are looking to introduce drone delivery systems and Google have tested their automated car in Nevada for over a year and the only accidents recorded happened when a human overrode the system.

And to top that, at the end of last year there was a break through in how robots acquire their knowledge; they can adapt and learn through validated paths that process the human language by understanding how to identify speech patterns, therefore replicating how the brain connects from the frontal cortex to the striatum.

With these developments engineers predict artificial intelligence and robots will replace humans in the next 10 years, and by 2050 robots will be a part of our every day life. Gets you thinking doesn’t it?

To end on a lighter note though, I’d like to share a poem I love by one of my favorite non-robots, Tim Burton:

“Mr. Smith yelled at the doctor,
What have you done to my boy?
He’s not flesh and blood,
he’s aluminum alloy!”
The doctor said gently,
What I’m going to say
will sound pretty wild.
But you’re not the father
of this strange looking child.
You see, there still is some question
about the child’s gender,
but we think that its father
is a microwave blender.”

Tim BurtonThe Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories

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