Currently, hard building modules and rigid connection systems require mechanical flexibility during inclusion of modules. This mechanism can provide stability and controllability, but reduces the flexibility. As a result, EPFL’s Laboratory of Intelligent System (LIS) has developed soft modular robots to overcome this problem.
Modular robots are fabricated with soft and floating modules, which are linked together with the help of electro adhesion. Electro adhesion makes it possible by providing very high voltages that produce a charge differential between two surfaces. An added advantage of this technique is that it provides high flexibility.
At this stage, you may think why this system is called as robots. It is just because of providing the electro adhesive connectors for robotics and soft robotics systems. Moreover, the main goal of this project is to know how soft mechanical modules maximize efficiency and potentials of a modular robot.
In the next development stage, the research team has planned to include ‘active deformation and sensing’ for reversible electro adhesive connection. So, this inclusion of sensor could be fair to call them as robots.
Overall, the soft modular robots are capable of providing high flexibility, robust, and versatile than the rigid building blocks.
The below video shows you the connection mechanism of soft modular robots: