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Soft robots gain strength

A soft robotic arm uses an origami-like skeleton in order to grasp a tire. Photo: Shuguang Li / MIT CSAIL

Soft robots with flexible and adaptable parts may be best equipped to interact with humans and occupy our sometimes unpredictable world. They can be more agile thanks to squishy and bendable materials but they also require soft versions of motors which, until now, haven't been as strong as their rigid counterparts.

What's new: In a paper published yesterday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, researchers at Harvard and MIT outlined a new design for artificial muscles that can provide more power to the machines than previous designs, per The Verge's James Vincent. "Soft robots have so much potential, but up until now, one of the limitations has been payloads," MIT's Daniela Rus told Vincent. "[They're] very safe, very gentle, but not good for lifting heavy objects. This new approach allows us to make strong and soft robots."