Lego-like bricks could build bendy robots

Lego-like bricks could build bendy robots

I found this interesting story that some of you guys might like. It involves robotics that follow the shape of LEGO more or less. Hope you enjoy it!

Official Press Release:

“Roboticists are building unusual sculptures and tools using flexible, translucent Lego-type bricks – which the bots will be able to play with as well.”

Pliable bricks that stick together like Lego could be the ultimate play set for advanced robotics.

George Whitesides and his colleagues at Harvard University have developed a range of soft robots, from limbo-dancing squid to bendy tentacles, based on flexible plastics and powered by air. All of these had to be made with specialised moulds, and the team realised that they could be more creative if they used building blocks.

Looking to Lego for inspiration, the team used a 3D printer to create a mould for a 6 x 9 stud brick and filled it with a flexible plastic. The material is soft, so they used a razor blade to cut bricks of different sizes from the same mould. They call their creation click-fit elastomeric bricks, or “click-e-bricks”, because the studs on top click into a recess on the base of the bricks.

The team used click-e-bricks to build basic structures and take them apart again. Unlike Lego, the flexibility of the bricks made it possible to create cylinders, arches and even a Mobius strip. They also built soft robots capable of bending and rolling across the floor when filled with air – the gaps between were sealed with glue, so these couldn’t be taken apart afterwards.

Putting other materials inside the bricks took the concept one step further. They stacked bricks that had microfluidic channels running through them to send liquids in different directions, and built a temporary light with blocks containing a battery and an LED.

Ultimately, the team hope soft robots will be able to manipulate the bricks themselves, leading to self-replication bots that could swap parts in and out as needed.

(Read the whole article here)

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