Soft, Air-Powered Robots Mimic Human Muscles

An EPFL team is developing soft, flexible, and reconfigurable robots. The low-cost, air-actuated robots are designed to be used on the human body in order to help people move. Made of elastomers, including silicon and rubber, they behave like human muscles and are inherently safe. They are controlled by changing the air pressure in specially designed 'soft balloons' that also serve as the robot's body. The cucumber-shaped actuators can stretch up to around five or six times their normal length and bend in two directions, depending on the model. Potential applications for these robots include patient rehabilitation, handling fragile objects, biomimetic systems and home care.