Roboticists show off their new advances in 'soft robots' at a Singapore conference, many drawing inspiration from nature. Jim Drury has more.
So-called 'soft robots' have a firm future. That's what roboticists at a conference in Singapore think. This glove, designed by a National University of Singapore student, could help stroke sufferers and those with arthritis. It's driven by air pressurisation. Engineers want to build robots softer and lighter than current versions made of rigid metal or plastic. If such models were less reliant on external power they could explore areas inaccessible to humans and perform tasks other robots can't manage. Some robots are also utilising the ancient art of origami. SOUNDBITE (English) NUS PHD STUDENT FROM INDIA, HAREESH GODABA, SAYING: "For origami we can basically have very thin sheets, folded into these complex 3D structures, so for many space applications, we can imagine an astronaut taking up a lot of actuators of thin sheets of paper in a small capsule onto the International Space Station and making a swarm of these robots for a very low-cost, and a lot of these robots can act together, work together, to move things or to explore." Soft robotics remains in its infancy, due to the difficulties in making models robust. But scientists here believe they're making breakthroughs - and say there's stiff competition to get their prototypes to market.