Scientists and engineers at the University of Maryland have created a 3D-printed soft robot arm capable of playing Nintendo’s Super Mario Brosia.

The study demonstrated the incredible progress in the agility of robotic hands Science is advancing.

The field of soft robotics focuses on flexible and inflatable robots that run on water or air, while traditional robots are powered by electricity. Interest in soft robotics has increased due to their safety and adaptability, which has led to their frequent use in prostheses and medical devices. Until new research, however, it has been difficult to control fluids that allow robots to bend and move.

The research team was led by Ryan D.Sochol, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland. The team’s big breakthrough came when they were able to 3D-print fully assembled soft robots with integrated fluid circuits, and all of this was successful at once.

Joshua Hubbard is another author.

“In the past, each finger of a soft robot’s hand typically needed its own line of control, which can limit portability and usefulness,” Hubbard says. “But by 3D printing with our soft robot hand integrated fluid transistors, it can play Nintendo on just one pressure supply.”

Photo: University of Maryland

Introduction to the robot

The team demonstrated a soft robotic arm by designing an integrated fluid circuit that allowed it to operate in response to a single control pressure. With low pressure, the team could get the first finger to press the Nintendo controller to get Mario to walk. Using high pressure Mario jumps.

The hand relied on a set program that switched off independently, between low, medium, and high pressure, and was able to use the Nintendo controller successfully and complete the first level of the game in less than 90 seconds.

Ruben Acevedo is a recent doctor. researcher and co-author of the study.

“Recently, several groups have tried to take advantage of fluid circuits to improve the autonomy of soft robots,” Acevedo said, “but methods to build and integrate these fluid circuits with robots can take days to weeks with high manual work and technical skill.”

3D printing

The team relied on the “PolyJet 3D Printing” technology, which has multiple layers of multi-material “inks” stacked in 3D.

Kristen Edwards is the second author of the study.

“Within a day and with little work, researchers can now move from the 3D printer startup process to ready-to-use soft robots – including all soft actuators, fluid circuit elements and chassis features -” said Edwards

Choosing Mario was not only a decision based on fun, but it also served as an accurate way to measure the agility of a hand. The timing and level of the video game is already set, and one error ends the game. This provided a new way to evaluate the robot.

Other research advances and open access

The group’s research paper also presented in detail therapist-inspired soft robots, all printed at UMD’s Terrapin Works 3D printing center.

The team’s strategy is also open source, and the paper is open to anyone to read. The team also linked their additional material to GitHub, and it includes all the electronic design files.

“We share all of our design files freely so that anyone can easily download, edit as needed, and print 3D — either through their own printer or through a printing service like ours — all the soft robots and flow circuits that come with our work,” said Sochol. -printing strategy expands the availability, distribution, reproducibility and deployment of soft robots with integrated fluid circuits and in turn accelerates the progress of the industry. “

The team is now looking at how their technology can be used in biomedical applications such as rehabilitation equipment, surgical tools and customizable prostheses.

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