Soft robots grow like plants via synthetic material extrusion process

Matthew Hausladen working with a new soft robot technology that could have use as a medical device and in manufacturing. [Photo courtesy of the University of Minnesota]

University of Minnesota scientists and engineers have taken a page from plant growth for new soft robot technology that might be able to navigate hard-to-reach places within the human body.

Some forms of soft robots — made of soft, pliable materials versus more traditional rigid materials — create new materials to grow and move, usually applying heat and/or pressure to solid material to grow themselves.

The University of Minnesota’s new extrusion process enables a soft robot to propel itself with newly grown material. It uses liquid resin and ultraviolet light to make and push synthetic material out of itself, the team said. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) published their pa…

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