Research ArticleSOFT ROBOTS

OmniSkins: Robotic skins that turn inanimate objects into multifunctional robots

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Science Robotics  19 Sep 2018:
Vol. 3, Issue 22, eaat1853
DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aat1853


Robots generally excel at specific tasks in structured environments but lack the versatility and the adaptability required to interact with and locomote within the natural world. To increase versatility in robot design, we present robotic skins that can wrap around arbitrary soft bodies to induce the desired motions and deformations. Robotic skins integrate actuation and sensing into a single conformable material and may be leveraged to create a multitude of controllable soft robots with different functions or gaits to accommodate the demands of different environments. We show that attaching the same robotic skin to a soft body in different ways, or to different soft bodies, leads to distinct motions. Further, we show that combining multiple robotic skins enables complex motions and functions. We demonstrate the versatility of this soft robot design approach in a wide range of applications—including manipulation tasks, locomotion, and wearables—using the same two-dimensional (2D) robotic skins reconfigured on the surface of various 3D soft, inanimate objects.

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