Flexi Bots are soft robots that can survive in harsh conditions, such as very high temperatures, impact, and crushing pressures.
Current soft robots use hard bodies with soft actuators leaving the robot vulnerable to cracking under impact. Rigid bodies are often needed to channel hydraulic lines to soft actuators, leaving delicate lines exposed. In our expirments, we found that complex hydraulic paths can be created using meltaway wax inserts and breakaway 3D printed parts. This project pushed boundaries of 3D printing, using the brittle characteristics of resin prints and engineered weak points to create mold inserts that remained in place as the silicone cured, but could be broken off after the fact.
Our soft robots, having no rigid parts, can be run over by a car, exposed to temperatures over 500°, and remain perfectly functional.