Twisted Ringbots: Innovative Soft Robots for Mapping Unknown Environments

New Soft Robots Inspired by Nature

A new kind of soft robot, called twisted ringbots, has been developed by researchers. These robots can roll forward, spin, and follow a path on their own. This advancement could lead to soft robots being used to explore and map unfamiliar environments without human or computer control.

How Twisted Ringbots Work

The twisted ringbots are made of ribbon-like liquid crystal elastomers that are twisted and joined together to form a loop shape. When the robots are placed on a hot surface, the portion of the ribbon touching the surface contracts while the rest doesn’t. This causes the robots to roll forward. The hotter the surface, the faster the robot rolls.

The Twisted Ringbot Movement

Not only do the twisted ringbots roll forward, but they also spin along their central axis, like a record. They also travel in an orbital path around a central point, essentially moving in a large circle. If they encounter a boundary, they will travel along it.

How They Can Help

The twisted ringbots can be effectively used to map unknown environments. This is possible without any human intervention, making it possible for them to capture the contours of complex spaces.

The Future of Soft Robotics

The twisted ringbots are a great example of devices whose behavior is governed by physical intelligence, meaning their actions are determined by their structural design and materials rather than computer or human direction.

How to Get More Information

You can find more information about the twisted ringbots in “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.” The work was supported by the National Science Foundation under grants 2005374 and 2126072.

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