Soft Robot Design

A Cornell team of researchers—Robert Shepherd and Hadas Kress-Gazit, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and Amit Lal, Electrical and Computer Engineering—are advancing a new class of motors for soft robots. These motors are based on the electrically driven pumping of liquid. Called HASELs (hydraulically amplified self-healing electrostatic actuators), they have the potential to enable practical and useful soft robots for safe interactions with humans.

HASELs represent the first electrostatic soft actuators that are stable and useful enough for broad adoption by experts and non-experts alike.

The researchers are providing a framework for the widespread adoption of HASELs by addressing their manufacturing, power, and control in easily replicated motifs that will be made available to the public in free online databases. Robot components such as hands and legs will be designed and manufactured using 3D printing. Effective 3D printing designs and control software developed in the project will be made available for public download and use.

Engineering design principles and useful tools that will allow citizen scientists to proliferate useful robots in the future will be an important outcome of the project. In order to achieve these goals, the project will leverage the opportunity for a coordinated, multidisciplinary effort between experts in physics, materials science, microelectronic engineering, as well as low- and high-level controls.

Cornell Researchers

Funding Received

$2 Million spanning 4 years