Are inflatable robots more than just hot air?

(Credit:
Otherlab)

The one good thing about inflatable robots is that all you need to disable them is a sharp object. Just remember that if they try to enslave us.

This is Ant-Roach, a pneumatic robot that weighs about 70 pounds and can carry loads that are much heavier. It was designed by San Francisco-based Otherlab “to demonstrate the carrying capacity and high strength-to-weight ratios possible with inflatable structures.”

In several videos, Ant-Roach is seen carrying kids on its back while it moves its six legs back and forth in a very slow walk. Watch it stumbling around in the sped-up videos here.

The beast has textile actuators that contract when inflated with compressed air. A microcontroller runs the muscle network, and is controlled wirelessly via laptop.

Of course, compressed air has been used for decades to power robotic devices, not least of which are the Actroid androids from Japan.

Since they’re tethered to large air compressors, locomotion tends to be zero to limited.

But that doesn’t mean they’re useless. Their soft exterior makes them ideal for use around humans, and they have high ratios of strength to weight. They’re also relatively inexpensive.

Otherlab’s prototype … [Read more]

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