Purdue University developed a design method to create soft robots. (Artist rendering by Ramses Martinez)

Recent advances in material science have enabled the fabrication of robots with deformable bodies or the ability to reshape when touched, but the complex design, fabrication, and control of soft robots currently hinders the commercialization of this technology and its use for at-home applications.

A new design method enables the efficient design and fabrication of soft robots using a 3D printer. The architected soft machines move like humans, except instead of muscles, they rely on miniaturized motors that pull from nylon lines tied to the ends of their limbs. They can be squeezed and stretched to more than 900 percent of their original length.