Ground-breaking Soft Valve Technology Enables Sensing and Control in Soft Robots

Soft inflatable robots have gained attention as a potential solution for applications that require safety and adaptability. However, incorporating sensing and control systems into these robots has proven challenging without compromising their softness and flexibility. To overcome this hurdle, a research team has developed a groundbreaking “soft valve” technology that integrates sensors and control valves while maintaining softness and flexibility.

Traditionally, soft robot bodies have coexisted with rigid electrical components for sensory and control purposes. The research team has successfully created soft analogues of sensors and control valves that operate without electricity. The tube-shaped component they have developed performs two functions: detecting environmental inputs and precisely controlling driving motion using only air pressure.

By utilizing these all-soft valves, the soft robots can operate safely underwater or in environments where sparks could be hazardous. Additionally, the elimination of electricity-dependent components reduces the weight loads on the robotic systems. This groundbreaking technology is economically feasible, with each component priced at around 800 Won.

The research team has demonstrated various applications of this soft valve technology. They have created universal tongs that can handle fragile items like potato chips without causing breakage. They have also designed wearable elbow assist robots that reduce muscle strain caused by repetitive chores or strenuous activities involving arm movements. The elbow support automatically adjusts based on the angle of the user’s bent arm, resulting in a significant reduction in the force placed on the elbow.

The soft valve works by controlling airflow through a tube-shaped structure. When stress is applied to one end of the tube, a helically coiled thread within it contracts, regulating air entrance and outflow. This unique accordion-like action enables precise and flexible movements without relying on electricity.

Furthermore, the research team has demonstrated the accurate management of airflow changes by programming different architectures or numbers of threads within the tube. This programmability allows for customized modifications to suit specific situations and requirements, providing flexibility in the response of the driving unit even when consistent external forces are applied.

The development of these soft valve components represents a significant advancement in the field of soft robotics. The integration of sensors and control valves without compromising the softness and adaptability of the robots opens up new possibilities for various applications, including wearable systems. This breakthrough technology has the potential to revolutionize the field and drive further advancements in the future.

– Soft valve technology enables integration of sensors and control valves in soft robots, ANI (This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)