In general, soft robots are created for a specific purpose and don’t have much use outside of their intended applications.
As a result, researchers working at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) are working on modular soft robots, built for more versatility.
Their latest creation is made up of three pneumatic pumps that expand and collapse to change direction, capable of being fitted together like Lego. In addition, the robot is unique in the fact the units share the same power source and control system, and is powered solely by a vacuum.
So what does all this mean?
The researchers believe the modular soft robot can be utilized in order to do a variety of tasks by either adding or removing modules. For example, the user could add suction cups and more units for the robot to climb windows or a grasping tool could be added to create a robotic arm.
“Everyone has a Swiss army knife somewhere, we want this to be the robot equivalent,” Jamie Paik, lead author of the work, told New Scientist. “You can keep this in your toolbox, ready to help automate simple tasks around the home.”
All in all, the modular soft robot is more of a concept than anything but it is a promising one as it pertains to the future of soft robotics.