Researchers from Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have developed a soft robotic insect that survives being flattened by a fly swatter or being squashed by a shoe.
Research team has actually developed two versions of the flying robot named DEAnsect: an extremely robust and autonomous legged soft robot 40 mm long, with a weight less than 1 gram.
This extreme lightness and mobility – the insect robot is capable of reaching the speed of 3 cm per second – was achieved by using dielectric elastomer actuators (DEA) for creating artificial muscles. DEA is a “class of electrostatic electroactive polymers, allow for kilohertz operation with high power density but require typically several kilovolts to reach full strain”, explained the scientists.
In an article “An autonomous untethered fast soft robotic insect driven by low-voltage dielectric elastomer actuators” published in Science Robotics on December 18, scientists shared that their research findings “paves the way for new generations of resilient soft and fast untethered robots”.
The director of Soft Transducers Laboratory (LMTS), where research is being conducted, Herbert Shea reportedly shared that the robot design provides new use-cases as “inspection or remote repairs, or even for gaining a deeper understanding of insect colonies”.
She has also shared that the research team is currently working on “an untethered and entirely soft version” in collaboration with Stanford University” with a long-term goal to enable communication among robots.
As Future Time reported earlier, researchers from Florida Atlantic University have created a robotic dog Astro, combining AI, deep learning and robotics.