Flexoskeleton Robots

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
One of the flexoskeleton robots, with rigid/flexible legs joined to a Lego-like electronic module
One of the flexoskeleton robots, with rigid/flexible legs joined to a Lego-like electronic module
David Baillot/University of California San Diego

Soft-bodied robots have numerous desirable qualities, such as the ability to squeeze through gaps, or survive being stepped on. And so far, they’ve typically been manually assembled on a one-off basis. That could be about to change, though, thanks to a new manufacturing method.

Developed by scientists at the University of California San Diego, the technique is inspired by the exoskeletons of insects. Although we may think of those exoskeletons as being like unyielding suites of armor, they are in fact rigid in some places (for structural support) while being flexible in others (for resilience and mobility).

The UC San Diego system likewise produces so-called “flexoskeletons,” that combine rigidity and flexibility. This is achieved by 3D-printing a polymer layer onto a thin, flexible sheet of polycarbonate. By tweaking the printing process, it’s possible to make the polymer flexible where needed – so it bends with the polycarbonate base – but to exhibit varying degrees of rigidity elsewhere.

A small flexoskeleton can reportedly be produced using an ordinary 3D printer, “for a small fraction of the cost” that it would take to otherwise create such a structure. That skeletal base can then be paired up with Lego-like electronic components, to form a complete robot.

Read more

About the Common Constitutionalist

Brent, aka The Common Constitutionalist, is a Constitutional Conservative, and advocates for first principles, founders original intent and enemy of progressives. He is former Navy, Martial Arts expert. As well as publisher of the Common Constitutionalist blog, he also is a contributing writer for Political Outcast, Godfather Politics, Minute Men News (Liberty Alliance), Freedom Outpost, the Daily Caller, Vision To America and Free Republic. He also writes an exclusive weekly column for World Net Daily (WND).