In an engineering building of Stanford University, some very creative researchers have built a very irregular hurdle course over a large area which has more obstacles than what you could imagine. To pass the sprawling course, the participants have to go through sand, a door, through some steps and finally an area full of pillars. It might sound like a very difficult hurdle course which has been designed by a student with too much time and imagination but it is actually a robot training course.
[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”auto” height=”” background_color=”#a0d3ed” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]A robot with highly advanced engineering may pass through the sand and doors, but the cluster of pillars can make it difficult for even some of the most intelligent robots of the current era. But the robot with all those abilities to pass such obstacles is the Vinebot, in which air is pumped in a flexible plastic tube and an operator handles its navigation and movement.[/dropshadowbox]
You might have heard about this soft robot during the month of July 2017 but now it has entered the robot market with many improvements. The last introduction of the Vinebot was lashed with an only simple inflating plastic tube, but now it has been enhanced with actuators. These actuators are actually bits which help the smart robot to get directions. But if you are thinking that this is just like any other robot which can cross obstacles with guidance, then you are at the wrong end of perception beach because it is being categorized as the new age of soft robots which can go at places which can’t be explored by the traditional robots.
The smart robot got its name as Vinebot because it looks like it’s growing as a Vine. Allison Okamura, the Standford roboticist, who is behind the development of Vinebot said that “When you do that, the material comes out the top—it inverts, which basically means it turns inside out, and that way you get more material onto the tip” For making the Vinebot grow, you need a steady supply of air and for shrinking, one needs to reel the tubing back into the spool.
[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”auto” height=”” background_color=”#a0d3ed” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]There is a series of plastic bags which runs along the tube and regarding this structure, Okamura further added that “That allows us to create a kind of air-driven tendon which allows us to steer it and still has the entire robot remain soft so that we can grow it at the same time.[/dropshadowbox]
Moreover, you should know that for these soft robots won’t replace the huge hulk size robots, but these smart robots won’t be left unemployed as they can be used in search and rescue projects of collapsed buildings and other disaster-affected locations.
The soft robot has also some issues like the vulnerable plastic which is used for the robot as it can’t handle the toughest situation of the wild world. But we can expect some improvements in the upcoming future and witness its role in search and rescue missions.