BOSTON–Researchers at Harvard University have developed a soft, elastomeric structure which can walk. The secret is the use of chambers within the structure, according to the study.
As these chambers are selectively inflated and deflated with a low-pressure fluid, the entity can be seen to 'walk' along a surface, the researchers said.
The structure was created using a rapid prototyping machine which can create a 3-D print of a design in an elastomeric material. In this case, the researchers used an ABS over a silicone elastomer structure. The silicone rubber was provided by Smooth-On under the name of Ecoflex 00-30.
It comprises four legs and five valves which permit fluid such as water to inflate and deflate different chambers within the device. Depending on the sequence, the device can walk with different gaits, either with two legs operating in pairs or four legs each operating independently.
The device is around 136mm long by 60mm wide and the Ecoflex layer is around 5.3mm deep.