When you think of a robot, you usually tend to imagine it to be made of hard electronics that enable it to function. But the researchers at UC Riverside have developed a new way of using pneumatic computer memory. And guess what? It works quite well!
The researchers used the technology to play the piano. The pneumatic soft robot switches the conventional electrical circuits and PCBs with air-powered microfluidic valves that enable movement with controlled airflow.
The soft robots use pressurised air to move soft, rubbery limbs and grippers and are superior to traditional rigid robots for performing delicate tasks. They are also safer for humans to be around, the university report said.
The microfluidic valves were originally designed to control the flow of liquids on microfluidic chips, but they are also capable of controlling the flow of air. The valves are sealed off against a pressure differential even when disconnected from an air supply line, creating trapped pressure differentials that act as memories, maintaining the states of the robot’s actuators.
The innovation is said to overcome one of the biggest fundamental mismatches between pneumatics and electronics.
Watch the robot playing ‘Mary had a little lamb’ here:
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