About this Research Topic
The rapid research progress in the soft robotics field has largely broadened the application scenarios of robots. However, a large variety of soft robots rely on electrical or pneumatic tethers to operate, which limit their wider applications. To achieve fully untethered soft robots, lots of components such as batteries, microprocessors, pumps, valves, or motors need to be put on-board, which requires delicate design and handling. Recent studies in soft actuation and sensing technologies have reported different kinds of untethered soft robots, from walking or swimming robots to combustion-powered jumping robots. With the development of better functioning untethered soft robots, we can envision many promising applications, from autonomous field robotics to biocompatible medical devices inside the human body.
This Research Topic focuses on reporting recent efforts to address the current challenges that untethered soft robots are faced with, including soft actuators and sensors, new materials and designs, and modeling and control for the autonomy of soft robots. Novel soft actuators with larger load-carrying capabilities are required to carry the heavy components. Soft sensors need to be integrated into the soft robotic system to provide feedback information for closed-loop control. Other onboard hardware such as the power supply and control units need to be carefully designed and miniaturized to eliminate the need for a tether.
The central goal of this Research Topic is to enable more powerful and functional untethered soft robots for a variety of practical applications.
We are interested in manuscripts in the form of Original Research, Brief Research Report, and Review Articles. The specific themes include, but are not limited to:
• Soft Actuators for Untethered Robots: pump-based fluidic actuation, chemical reaction actuation, electrothermal actuation (e.g., shape memory alloys (SMAs), shape-memory polymers (SMPs), thermal active polymers), electroactive soft material actuation (i.e., dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs)), and other types (biology, noncontact field actuation, etc.)
• Bioinspired and Biomimetic Design
• Sensing for Untethered Soft Robots: deformation, force, and tactile sensing; sensor-actuator integration
• Modeling and Control for Untethered Soft Robots
• Novel Applications of Untethered Soft Robots: wearable devices, haptic devices, field exploration, disaster relief, drug delivery inside the human body, etc.
Image Credit: Reproduced from Yu Alexander Tse, Kiwan Wong, Yang Yang*, Michael Yu Wang: Novel Design of a Soft Pump Driven by Super-Coiled Polymer Artificial Muscles. 2020 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), accepted with permission from the IEEE
Keywords: Soft Robot, Soft Actuator, Soft Sensor, Smart Material, Untethered
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.