Smart elastomers are making the robots of the future more touchy-feely

Imagine flexible surgical instruments that can twist and turn in all directions like miniature octopus arms, or how about large and powerful robot tentacles that can work closely and safely with human workers on production lines. A new generation of robotic tools are beginning to be realized thanks to a combination of strong ‘muscles’ and sensitive ‘nerves’ created from smart polymeric materials. A research team led by the smart materials experts Professor Stefan Seelecke and Junior Professor Gianluca Rizzello at Saarland University is exploring fundamental aspects of this exciting field of soft robotics.

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