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Snake-Inspired Robot Uses Kirigami to Move

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The soft robot made using the Japanese craft kirigami.

A team of researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences developed a soft robot that moves like a snake.

Credit: Ahmad Rafsanjani/Harvard SEAS

Researchers at the Harvard University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have developed a soft robot without any rigid components that moves like a snake.

The soft robotic scales are made using kirigami, a Japanese paper craft that relies on cuts instead of folds to change the properties of the material. As the robot stretches, the flat kirigami surface is transformed into a three-dimensional textured surface, which grips the ground like snake skin.

"We have shown that kirigami principles can be integrated into soft robots to achieve locomotion in a way that is simpler, faster, and cheaper than most previous techniques," says Harvard's Ahmad Rafsanjani.

The researchers experimented with triangular, circular, and trapezoidal cuts, and found the latter gave the robot the longest stride.

"These all-terrain soft robots could one day travel across difficult environments for exploration, inspection, monitoring, and search and rescue missions or perform complex, laparoscopic medical procedures," says Harvard professor Katia Bertoldi.

From Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
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