New origami-inspired soft robot offers surgical potential


Researchers have utilised the principles of origami paper folding to create a new soft robot with numerous potential applications.

The Twister system was developed by a Case Western Reserve University scientist, and uses a segmented folded structure to grasp delicate items in a way that allows the machine's fingers to absorb extra force by distributing it and deforming.

“Scientists have developed an origami-inspired soft robot that could be used in a variety of medical and manufacturing applications.“

Made from multiple layers of regular polygons formed into the tube-like shape of a tower, the Twister system's designs have been converted into a 3D-printable format, allowing the unit to be easily replicated.

Twister can safely move all kinds of fragile objects without requiring force-based sensing and interacting with humans. If miniaturised, it could be inserted into the body for minimally invasive surgeries.

Kiju Lee, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, said: "Laproscopic surgery often requires some rigid pieces, and movement to control them from the outside causes stress on the tissues."

It could also have a role to play in assembly-line manufacturing and in analysis conducted during space travel.

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