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Robots made safer for humans using soft Actuators

Robots are becoming more common place as advancements are made to create robots in just about every industry. Though generally robots work separately and away from humans, because of safety concerns. In order to make robots safer around humans a team led by George Whitesides, faculty member at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, have developed a new actuator that uses rubber beams that mimics movements similar to skeletal muscles.

The work was published in the Advanced Materials Technologies journal. The actuators are soft, shock absorbent, and make them safer to work alongside humans. The team developed vacuum actuated muscle inspired pneumatic structures (VAMPs) to decrease the actuators volume to cause it to buckle, for a human this would be raising your forearm while in a resting state.

The actuator is made of small, hollow, chambers of air, which then collapse after applying vacuum.

The team envisions using these robots to help the disabled, elderly, serve food, deliver goods, and many other services. Though these robots will also make work environments safer while maintaining the efficiency that robots produce.

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