The new Octobot is quite the opposite of your typical hard, metal robot. Researchers at Harvard University have created a 3-D printed soft robot resembling an octopus, and it may be the first major step towards creating soft robots.
Instead of relying on a hard battery pack, the Octobot is powered by a chemical reaction of hydrogen peroxide, allowing it to flex its “tentacles” when the gas is released. The materials making up soft robots are less likely to shatter making this type of robot much more durable than its rigid counterparts. Soft robots could one day have the ability to weave in and out of tight spaces, because they can easily mold into different shapes in ways previous robots never could.
In terms of robotic surgery, a soft autonomous robot like the Octobot has the ability to drastically improve technology. Since robotic surgery is currently still in the hands of the surgeon operating the machine, autonomous, unaided surgery is not yet a complete reality. The main factor behind this delay is the concern for patient safety – leaving a large technical machine to operate on its own can be dangerous. However, soft robots are less likely to hurt humans. If we can perfect the autonomous functions of soft robots, patients may one day be more comfortable with a purely robotic surgical operation.
At the Nicholson Center, we continue to research advancements in robotic surgery every day, and we are looking forward to seeing how the industry progresses. To learn more about the types of robots we train with at the Nicholson Center, contact us online today: