One of the first attempts at humanoid robot design took place in 1495, when Leonardo Da Vinci developed the mechanical knight. The robot was designed to make several human-like motions, but it was not until the 1990s, when the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) invented Kismet, the world’s first sociable robot.
Over the years, the manufacturing industry has looked towards these humanoid robots in optimising productivity in the sector, leading to the creation of soft robots. But what are the applications of soft robotics in manufacturing and how might the technology impact other sectors in the future?
In manufacturing, automation is embedded in the factory assembly line and completes repetitive, laborious tasks. However, some sectors require robots for more delicate tasks that have previously relied on the work of the human hand.
Manufacturers may need machinery that is more efficient than both a human and a bulkier machine. Certain tasks require higher levels of accuracy, which human workers cannot replicate consistently.
Soft robots deliver the consistency required and can also do the jobs that may cause human injury, such as repetitive strain injury (RSI), further improving productivity and reducing risk to employees.