Slashdot reader Kassandra Perlongo shares an article about “soft robotics and exoskeletons” at the University of Salford, writing “those bulky, mechanical suits could eventually be a thing of the past.”
Children with a rare neurological disease were recently given the chance to walk for the first time thanks to a new robotic exoskeleton… But while today’s exoskeletons are mostly clumsy, heavy devices, new technology could make them much easier and more natural to use by creating a robotic skin… [Soft robotic devices] are particularly well suited to interaction with humans as they are typically lightweight which means if they collide with a person they are unlikely to cause injury.
We recently developed a new “soft continuum actuator”, a joint that bends like an elephant’s trunk…if it encounters resistance in one part of its body it will still bend but at a different location elsewhere along its length. By equipping a skintight material suit with these actuators, we can create a soft exoskeleton that bends at the precise location of the wearer’s joints. This means the suit will fit a range of users comfortably without needing mechanical adjustment or calibration. Plus, the system is lightweight and can be worn like clothing rather than a bulky mechanical frame.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.