Soft Robots: Presence Makes The Heart Go Longer

Another area of robotics research, soft robots are showing eyebrow-raising promise in a number of fields, particularly medical. Simply put, a soft robot is one constructed of, you guessed it, soft and flexible material.

Unlike the metallic robotics used in manufacturing, industrial, and other heavy-duty apps, soft robots are somewhat modelled after soft appendages such as the tentacles of a squid or octopus. They have the ability to wrap around or adhere like tape to the surface of an object it will operate with or upon.

Image Source: Ellen Roche/Harvard University

Department of robotics researchers at Harvard University have developed a soft robot that’s capable of wrapping around a human heart to help it beat properly. Fabricated with a fine silicone sleeve, it uses actuator to mimic the rhythms of typical mammal heart. N external pump provides air for the actuators.

Diagram of a VAD [Image Source: Wikimedia Commons]

The device contracts with each pulse and allegedly boosts weaker heartbeats. An important feature is that it does not make contact with blood, a feature said to reduce the possibility of clotting. To watch a video demo of the robot in action, CLICK HERE.

This may actually beg the question, can this soft robot keep the heart beating indefinitely. Well, there are no claims to that effect. One might thing if the power source is kept constant and clean, the sky’s the limit. But we’ll have to wait until after the villagers storm the castle to find out.  ~MD