SM01.01.01 : Soft Robotics

10:45 AM–11:15 AM Apr 3, 2018

PCC West, 100 Level, Room 104 AB

George Whitesides1

1, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

"Robotics" is a field with broad interest: it combines mechanical engineering, information science, and animal physiology with manufacturing, workforce development, economics, and other areas. The most highly developed classes of robots have been build based on conceptual models provided by the body-plans of animals with skeletons (humans, horses), and have made it possible to carry out tasks that humans and animals could not (for a variety of reasons). We are interested in robots based a different, simpler class of organisms (invertebrates: starfish, worms, octopi). Because these organisms, and the robots having designs stimulated by them, have no skeletons, they provide enormous opportunities in materials and polymer science, rather than primarily in mechanical engineering. This seminar will outline one approach to soft robots, and suggest problems and opportunities in this new field.