A team of research engineers recently made a notable advance in fundamentals related to control of soft robots with magnetic field. This would really help in manipulation of micro particle chains located in soft robotic devices remotely. The team had already created multiple devices that can use this new technology. An associate professor of engineering and material science at the North Carolina State University and also a corresponding author of paper on this research, Joe Tracy adds, “By putting these self-assembling chains into soft robots, we are able to have them perform more complex functions while still retaining relatively simple designs. Possible applications for these devices range from remotely triggered pumps for drug delivery to the development of remotely deployable structures.”
The new technique takes advancement over their prior work in self-assembling, magnetically actuated composites by Orlin Velev and Tracy. Orlin is a professor of biomolecular and chemical engineering at the North Carolina State University. Tracy, further explains, “The chains allow us to manipulate the polymer remotely as a soft robot by controlling a magnetic field that affects the chains of magnetic particles.” The direction of its strength and magnetic field differs in a specific manner. The iron micro particles chains react by getting aligned and other surrounding polymer in a similar direction as that of the applied magnetic field.
With the help of this technique, the researchers were able to create three types of soft robots. One of the device cantilever that can lift weight 50 times more than itself. The second device, on the other hand, is a structure like an accordion that contracts and expands, iterating the muscle behavior. The third device happens to be the tube that has been designed for functioning like a peristaltic pump – a compressed segment travels down along the tube length. Tracy explains further, “We’re now working to improve both the control and the power of these devices, to advance the potential of soft robotics.”
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