September 13, 2016

Hearing the word “robot” likely drums up an image of a hard plastic machine with metal components and stiff materials that house electrical equipment and batteries needed to make it move. Engineers at Harvard have developed the first robot made entirely of soft parts — and it is autonomous.

Named Octobot, the robot is mostly 3D printed, with all of its components made of soft material. After being printed, the body of the robot is inlaid with channels that help it move and give the robot its power. Instead of relying on electronic or battery power like traditional robots, Octobot runs on hydrogen peroxide gas. It pushes the fuel across the limbs by inflation which is called a microfluidic logic circuit. This allows for the robot to move without any human guidance. While this robot is simplistic in function, the engineering of a soft robot opens doors to the future of robotics, and its application across many fields.

Explore our interactive map to learn about exciting innovations in robotics found all over the world.

Photo Credit/Lori Sanders


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