The robots are coming now to play Super Mario Bros for the speedrunners

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Gif: YouTube – Ryan Sochol – Soft bots seem like robotics’ real future, but they still want their job while they are less scary.

The idea that robots will become aware of themselves one day and begin a war to eradicate mankind is laughing. Instead they will gradually occupy every last job until the population of the world is unemployed and is unable to shop in automated grocers. And even if you live in Twitch-speed video games, it doesn’t seem safe now.

Another assumption about the future of automobiles is that robots are always made from metal and look like Armor suits. They are based on movies like Star Wars and The Terminator. It is a long-term and strong approach — ideal for wars throughout time or space — and not exactly safe for human interaction. You will find barriers that prevent human workers from approaching a factory that depends on robot weapons for various tasks, because if a robot collides with a human being, the skin bag full of meat and bones will always lose out.

An entirely different approach to robotics, which they are made of materials similar to the soft and wet human body, is being developed by a team of researchers at the University of Maryland. It’s a field called soft robotics, and slowly begins in the mainstream media to catch up. The animated movie Big Hero 6, an inflatable Baymax robot, was designed to perform medical diagnoses and therapies and interact with patients without harming them in the same way that you won’t be hit by a beachball.

Where researchers from the University of Maryland have advanced the field of soft-robotics, a full-sized and fully functional robotic hand allows the articulation of individual figures by a single control mechanism is produced in 3D printing. Your typical robot uses servo engines or pneumatic pistons to activate any joint point. This approach enables accurate checks and movements, but it also requires a lot of power, planning and complexity, which often leads to many failures.

The printer with a complete fluidic circuit inside, which enable the hand digits to actually move, comes from the 3D printed hand made at Bioinspired Advanced Manufacturing (BAM) laboratory at the Univerity. The liquid pumped through the fluidic circuit of the hand brings it to life, like inflating a long, limp balloon, which makes it rigid enough to turn into a ballon animal, In soft robotics, a separate robot pump is typically needed to pump fluids across every moving section, but only one hand drives the hand and can move specific fingers simply by changing the pump pressure.

Image: University of Maryland

The pressure of the first finger moves and the hands of the other fingers can be moved one by one by increasing the pressure from there. The researchers paired the hand with the NES controller and pushed the fingers with different buttons, including the directional pad, to demonstrate the effectiveness of the new approach. The robotic hand was able to complete Super Mario Bros.’s first level on the NES in less than 90 seconds through a programming of low-, medium- and high-pressure actuations.

The world record for Super Mario Bros’s first level is less than 12 seconds, so this new robot has yet to make speedrunners in the world any worries. However, this shows a new radical approach to robots. By using 3D printing and soft materials, a fully functional bot can be produced not merely quickly but cost-effectively – and without compromising functionality. If all of the robots around the world are one day as squishy as red bananas, they will also be a great deal less scary to interact.