https://safirsoft.com This soft, 3D-printed, level 1 robot from Super Mario Bros.

The hand has a liquid transistor, so it only needs one pressure input.

A team of engineers at the University of Maryland has developed a soft, three-finger robotic arm that's flexible enough to handle buttons. And the directional pad on the Nintendo console—according to a recent article in Science Advances, even managed to defeat the first level of Super Mario Bros. As a proof of concept. The same team also used the same multi-material 3D printing process that produced the robotic hand to make two soft robotic turtles (the terrapin turtle is the official UMD mascot).

A team led by Ryan Sokol, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland, has developed a soft, agile robotic arm that can manipulate a game controller.

We traditionally assume that robots are made of hard and hard materials, but the subgroup of soft robots have a different approach. This article seeks to make robotic devices from more flexible materials that mimic the properties of live animals. Building a robot's body entirely from soft materials brings great benefits, including flexibility enough to squeeze into tight spaces and chase survivors after a disaster. Soft robots also have great potential as prosthetic limbs or biomedical devices. Even rigid robots rely on some soft components such as foot pads that act as shock absorbers or flexible springs to store and release energy. In 2016, Harvard researchers developed a soft robot inspired by octopuses, which is made entirely of flexible materials, but soft robots are much more difficult to control because of their flexibility. In the case of the Octobot, the researchers replaced the solid-state electronic circuits with microfluidic circuits. These circuits involve regulating the flow of water (hydraulic) or air (pneumatic), rather than electricity, through the circuit's micro-channels that enable the robot to bend and move. Advertising

Although this is a clever solution, it has its own set of challenges. These include the high cost (clean room facilities required) and the time required to build these microfluidic systems and then integrate them into the system as a whole. "Recently, several groups have attempted to control fluid circuits to increase the autonomy of soft robots," said Ruben Acevedo, co-author of the article. "But the methods for building and integrating these fluid circuits with robotics with a high degree of manual labor and technical skill can take days to weeks."

As an undergraduate, blacks worked in the University of Maryland lab as mechanical engineer Ryan D. Sochul, who wanted to bypass the manual connection of fluid circuit components to soft robotics in favor of the direct inclusion of these functions in soft robotic systems. His team found the answer in PolyJet 3D printing, in which several different layers of materials are stacked on top of each other. The printer lowers one layer of the liquid, allows it to solidify, then lowers the next layer, and so on.

University of Maryland mechanical engineer Ryan de Socol demonstrates the soft robotic arm of his team. Zoom / Mechanical Engineer University of Maryland, Ryan D. Sochul shows his team's soft robotic hand. YouTube / SOCHOL et al. "James Clark School of Engineering UMD A." Combining materials with different strengths increases performance, as it allows the properties of materials with specified properties to match the desired properties. "Components such as membranes and O-rings must deform during operation, so a soft material such as rubber is used to make them, while hard, plastic-like materials are used to make the components that must be manufactured," they wrote in their book. Article. Stable (fluid channels, such as access ports and structural sheaths) Finally, the research team used a water-soluble material as a scaffold during the printing process, followed by an empty space and internal channels. External outlet - first by dissolving the material with water, then by manually removing the remaining scaffolding material. Advertising

Micro fluid-controlled soft robots usually require separate control inputs for each soft stimulus independently By integrating fluid circuit, UMD team can operate the hand by changing the pressure power between low, medium and high In other words, only one liquid source can send different signals by changing the pressure. Even better, the one-handed 3D printing process and two turtle robots - including soft stimuli (parts of a mouse). mobility), fluid circuits, and the robot's body - lasting a few hours, not days or weeks.

The team tested the performance of the robotic hand using Super Mario Bros. To walk Mario, the team used low pressure, so he only pressed the first finger of the console. The researchers used moderate pressure to play Mario and high pressure to hand press the correct control button to jump Mario. Super Robot Boot soft play <em>Super Mario Bros. </em> Why Super Mario Bros. "This was the first Nintendo game he played as a kid," Sochul told American Scientific. But this choice was not just nostalgia. The game's time and specs are quite straightforward. The robot's hand simply needed to adjust its responses to pre-programmed movements. And there are real consequences to failure: one mistake costs Mario dearly. The hand worked very well, and I managed to successfully pass the first level of the game in less than 90 seconds.

"We share all of our design files freely so that anyone can easily download and edit them on demand and 3D print - either with their own printer or through a printing service like We - All soft robots and flex circuits are elements of our work" We hope that this printing strategy will be the next three, open source, scaling, publishing, reproducing, and using soft bots combined with fluid circuits, which in turn accelerates advances in the field.”

DOI: Science Advances, 2021. 10.1126 sciadv.abe5257 (About DOI).

Photo courtesy of the University of Maryland

This soft, 3D-printed, level 1 robot from Super Mario Bros.
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