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作者:21th英文…    文章来源:www.ryedu.net    更新时间:2017-8-25


椰子油Traditionally, robots have been stiff, *angular entities, made of metal and other rigid materials (think C-3PO in Star Wars). But a team of scientists at Harvard University in the US has managed to build an entirely soft robot – one that draws inspiration from an *octopus.

Described in science journal Nature, the “Octobot” could pave the way for more effective *automatons that could be used in search and rescue, exploration and to more safely interact with humans.

“The octobot is a minimal system designed to demonstrate our integrated design and *fabrication strategy,” the study’s authors wrote, “which may serve as a foundation for a new generation of completely soft, autonomous robots.”

Robots built for precise, repetitive movements in a controlled environment don’t do so well on rough *terrains or in unpredictable conditions. And they aren’t especially safe around humans, because they’re made out of hard and heavy parts that could be potentially dangerous to their flesh-and-bone counterparts.

So researchers have been working on building soft robots for decades. They’ve taken inspiration from nature, looking to animals from jellyfish to *cockroaches, which are often composed of more *malleable matter.

But creating a completely soft robot remains a challenge. Even if engineers build a *silicone body, it’s still a *feat to construct flexible versions of essential internals, such as *circuitry and a source of power.

“Creating a new class of fully soft, autonomous robots is a grand challenge, because it requires soft *analogues of the control and power hardware currently used,” the study’s authors wrote.

However, researchers from Harvard University managed to do just that. Octobot’s eight arms move thanks to a system of *inflatable *compartments. The moving parts are connected to a network of channels that send liquid fuel to mix with a *platinum-based catalyst inside reaction chambers. As the fuel *decomposes, it releases pressurized oxygen that inflates chambers, allowing the Octobot’s “tentacles” to move.

The movements are controlled by a series of logic gates – basically a fluid-filled version of a circuit board. The scientists managed to create this complex system using several techniques, including *soft-lithography and 3-D printing.
(章鱼机器人)的行动由一系列逻辑门进行控制 —— 基本上就是一个充满液体的电路板。科学家们设法运用多种技术来创造这一复杂的系统,包括软光刻技术以及3-D打印技术等等。

Octobot is just the first step toward creating more advanced and capable machines, according to researchers. Its current capabilities are very limited, but designing and building more complex robots will mean integrating several different materials and introducing many new abilities, including more advanced movement, power and control. And despite its current *rudimentary status, octobot shows that this can be done.

“Although soft robotics is still in its infancy, it holds great promise for several applications, such as servicing and inspecting machinery, search-and-rescue operations, and exploration,” Barbara Mazzolai and Virgilio Mattoli of the Italian Institute of Technology’s Center for Micro-BioRobotics, wrote in a commentary. “Soft robots might also open up new approaches to improving wellness and quality of life.”


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