Squishy Robotics on the Cover of Soft Robotics

Squishy Robotics, UC Berkeley’s BEST (Berkeley Emergent Space Tensegrities) Lab and a NASA Ames co-author were on the cover of the June 2024 issue of Soft Robotics journal. The referenced paper was co-authored by Dr. Kyunam Kim (Ph.D. ) as lead author with Dr. Alice M. Agogino (Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Emeritus) and Dr. Adrian K. Agogino (NASA Ames Scientist). The cover highlights Daniel Lim’s (Ph.D. student) award-winning art.

Cover Image: These spherical, tensegrity robots – with six bars and 24 cables – were developed by Alice Agogino and researchers at her lab at UC Berkeley and at NASA Ames for use in planetary space exploration. With the ability to drop from high elevations, these compliant light-weight robots can carry delicate scientific sensors, survive the impact and locomote to perform scientific monitoring. The rolling locomotion achieved by these cable-driven soft spherical robots was described in a 2020 technical paper in Soft Robotics*. Since then, Squishy Robotics, Inc. has commercialized this technology for applications in emergency response and early wildfire and methane detection and remediation. The commercial version can be dropped from drones, helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.

The image seen here illustrates how the compliant tensegrity structure can be stored flat in a futuristic delivery drone to allow multiple robots to be dropped in one delivery.

Daniel Lim (doctoral student at UC Berkeley) led the design team at Squishy Robotics that won the Platinum 2021–2022 A’ Design Award in “Product Engineering and Technical Design” and Silver in the IDA 2022 International Design Award for the “Design for Society” category.

*See Kim, Kyunam, Adrian K. Agogino, and Alice M. Agogino. “Rolling locomotion of cable-driven soft spherical tensegrity robots.” Soft robotics 7.3 (2020): 346–361; https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/soro.2019.0056.

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