Think about the current pneumatics you have in your company, its applications, its movements, locate where this type of automation is implemented. If we start thinking, when we use pistons and rigid hoses to manipulate air, we are wasting one of the main characteristics of this fluid which is its adaptability according to its container.
This is just what current robotics is working on by the hand of pneumatic engineering: Robots that can change its shape radically, that can be deflated and made small for transport and that are extremely safe to work surrounded by people since the rigid components apart from the electronics are minimal.
Harvard Biodesign Lab is currently developing soft wearable robots for people with muscle weakness or who suffer from a physical disorder. Simulating the structure and functionality of human muscles which inflate and contract giving a light and comfortable solution compared to the exoskeletons that are used nowadays in the industry to assist on heavy tasks.
There are different scenarios where traditional robotics looks very limited, for example, when you must place a robot underground and access is very small compared to the size of the robot. On an expedition to space where inside the rocket is very small. Mining where any electronic component could cause an unimaginable explosion etc.
As engineers it´s time to think out of the box and work on an alternative which combines all the advantages that soft robots offer but with the accuracy, precision, and repetitiveness of rigid robots.
I invite you to read more about soft robot applications and let us know what you think!
Let’s all share with the rest of the Automation Community!