Matthew Borgatti has spent a great deal of time and effort exploring and documenting soft robotics — and getting this knowledge to the artists, designers, engineers, and makers. “Soft Robotics” can be something of a catchall-term, but typically these approaches to robot construction draw from solutions in nature for solving problems of movement/adjustment/balance/positioning without hard-substance armatures such as bones (instead, think jellyfish, octopuses, starfish, worms, and other invertabrates. Instead of building a robot using aluminum extrusions or even LEGOs, here Matthew explores 3D printing as a means of creating an internal structure of bladders to control an airtight silicone body.
Here’s what Erin has to say about Matthew’s soft robots: “Matthew is experimenting with something new, and it is extremely cool. Soft robots that are actuated using air pressure. The way to construct these involves multiple steps of 3d prints, casts, and moulds. Reading through the adventure is a good way to learn more about it all. He also gave a talk at Open Hardware Summit about the importance of documenting your projects beyond the files. It’s going to be really interesting to see how well the quadruped will walk!
From his “Print Your Own Robot” Series – Matthew Borgatti’s Soft Robots:
Quadrupeds. I’ve been dreaming about quadrupeds. I’ve been hunting for challenges to test my methods and improve the engineering on the whole “print and cast a soft robot” thing (I really need to come up with a name for this… “Borgatronics?”). I started with tentacles because they were easy to design, easy to test, and symmetrical.
They’ve made a lot of progress, but it’s time to turn to other designs. I’ve produced a few prototypes along one main design, and have discovered many things. I’m going to try and explain my logic behind the design and some of the major changes I intend to make in the next version. I’m also going to tell you all the myriad ways I went wrong in this design and the things I’ve done to try and make it right.
This is going to be a pretty dry technical post on the industrial design aspects of the robots I’ve been developing. I promise you entertainment and levity aplenty in the future. For now, we grump about casting flaws, mold design, and process control…..