Octopus Robot Breaks Free from Soft Robotic Leash
Harvard University researchers have built the Octobot, the world's first autonomous, untethered and entirely soft robot.
The octobot is small - really it looks like they're bringing an old school creepy crawler to life - but it solves two of the biggest challenges that have literally been holding back soft robots, rigid components and the tether.
Remember the squishy rover from Rutgers engineers? Tough little guy could work under water and traverse rough terrain, but only for the length of its leash.
The octobot is powered by gas under pressure. A reaction inside the bot takes a small amount of hydrogen peroxide turns it into a large amount of gas, which flows into the octobot’s arms and inflates them like a balloon.
To control the reaction, the team used a microfluidic logic circuit, a soft analog of a simple electronic oscillator, that controls when hydrogen peroxide decomposes to gas in the octobot.
And it's easy to make. Manufactured using soft lithography, molding and 3D printing, the ease of assembly could pave the way for more complex designs.
Now that the proof-of-concept is complete, the team hopes to design an octobot that can crawl, swim and interact with its environment.
Stratasys’s Vision for Manufacturing’s Future
The first in this vision, is the Infinite-Build 3D Demonstrator developed for large part production in custom OEM and on-demand aftermarket applications.
Designed for large lightweight, thermoplastic parts with repeatable mechanical properties, the Infinite-Build turns the traditional 3D printer concept on its side and prints on a vertical plane.
The company partnered with Boeing which defined the demonstrator’s requirements and specifications, and is even using one to explore the production of low volume, lightweight parts.
Stratasys will also have its Robotic Composite 3D Demonstrator at the show, which combines the company’s extrusion technologies with Siemens’ motion control hardware and PLM software.
The demonstrator has an 8-axis motion system that enables precise, directional material placement while also dramatically reducing the need for support materials. According to the company, this could redefine how future lightweight parts will be built, and accelerate the production of parts made from a wide variety of materials.
Sinkhole Swallows Neighbors
In January 2015, a man in China took the concept of a man cave a little too far when his plans for an epic basement not only backfired, but created a sinkhole that swallowed four neighboring homes.
Last Friday, Li Baojun was sentenced to five years in jail and fined 5 million yuan ($740K USD) for endangering public safety. That number may not be a coincidence, because the sinkhole was created by the man's attempt to build a basement that was five stories deep.
According to AFP, it took 50,000 cubic feet to fill the hole in Beijing, which also swallowed the man's house.
The tragedy left 15 neighbors without homes, but no one was injured.
Five years in jail seems like a lot for what amounts to little more than a colossal mistake, though it is one way to deal with annoying neighbors.
This is Engineering By Design.