Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology have demonstrated three prototypes of soft transparent hydrogel robots with hydraulic actuators that operate much faster than their osmotic counterparts. All the three robots can be used in any field.
Traditionally, soft robots are developed for being used in medicine, but the MIT researchers have shown other possible spheres of application. For example, one of the robots can be a successful invisible fisherman, another robot can push balls, and the third one is an inconspicuous watcher of underwater inhabitants.
Hydraulic actuators are driven by a pump, injecting water into the cavity of the soft robot. The demonstrated prototypes underwent a thousand-cycle test, and the time needed for the actuator to shrink into a ring was reduced to just 1 second. Hydrogel osmotic actuators operate at a much slower rate, and the same operation takes about 20 hours.