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soft robotics

time lapsed photo shows a soft robot tendril lowering, wrapping around a tube, and lifting it into the air

Jun 12, 2024

3D-printed mini-actuators can move small soft robots, lock them into new shapes

The miniature soft hydraulic actuators can control the deformation and motion of soft robots that are less than a millimeter thick. 

A soft robot and a caterpillar on the branch of a green plant. The caterpillar is on the bottom of the branch and the soft robot is on the top or opposite side of the branch.

May 16, 2024

Caterbot? Robotapillar? It crawls with ease through loops and bends

Engineers at Princeton and North Carolina State University have combined ancient paper folding and modern materials science to create a soft robot that bends and twists through mazes with ease. 

Illustration of caterpillar-like soft robot.

Jan 19, 2024

MAE postdoc wins first-place prize in annual research image contest

Shuang Wu, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE), won a first-place prize in the graphics and data visualization category of NC State’s annual Envisioning Research contest. His illustration, “Caterpillar Inspired Soft Crawling Robot,” depicts a caterpillar-like soft robot that can move forward, backward and dip under narrow spaces. It was… 

Black-and-white video still shows a ringlike object in a square space that has one gap for an entrance. A bright white line shows the path that the object has taken in tracing the contours of the space.

Jan 9, 2024

New soft robots roll like tires, spin like tops and orbit like moons

The device, which operates without human or computer control, holds promise for developing technologies that can be used to navigate unknown environments. 

image shows two long, twisted strands of clear polymer

Sep 11, 2023

‘Brainless’ robot can navigate complex obstacles

Researchers who created a soft robot that could navigate simple mazes without computer direction have built on that work, creating a “brainless” robot that can navigate more complex environments. 

Memorial Belltower

Apr 4, 2023

MAE researchers win PNAS Cozzarelli Prize

The Editorial Board of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) has selected a paper by researchers from NC State University’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering as one of six papers published by PNAS in 2022 to receive the prestigious Cozzarelli Prize. 

Photo shows several caterpillar robots bent in different poses, demonstrating how they move forward and backward.

Mar 23, 2023

Robot caterpillar demonstrates new approach to locomotion for soft robotics

The caterpillar-like soft robot that can move forward, backward and dip under narrow spaces. 

Closeup composite image of butterfly bot: left side shows diagram, right side shows 3 different butterfly stroke swimming positions and how the robot mimics them.

Nov 22, 2022

‘Butterfly Bot’ is fastest swimming soft robot yet

These energy-efficient soft robots can swim more than four times faster than previous swimming soft robots. 

Ringbot towing a payload across a flat surface.

Nov 16, 2022

Autonomous crawling soft ‘Ringbots’ can navigate narrow gaps

The ring-shaped soft robot crawls across surfaces when exposed to elevated temperatures or infrared light.