Robotics & Automation

'Air Walker': Electronics-Free, Air-Powered Robot

Engineers at the University of California San Diego  have created a four-legged soft robot that doesn’t need any electronics to work; it only needs a constant source of pressurized air for all its functions, including its controls and locomotion systems. The UC San Diego bot is controlled by a lightweight, low-cost system of pneumatic circuits, made up of tubes and soft valves, onboard the robot itself. It can walk on command or in response to signals it senses from the environment. The robot is also equipped with simple mechanical sensors that are little soft bubbles filled with fluid placed at the end of booms protruding from the robot’s body. When the bubbles are depressed, the fluid flips a valve in the robot, which causes it to reverse direction.