Team, Visitors, External Collaborators
Overall Objectives
Research Program
Application Domains
Highlights of the Year
New Software and Platforms
New Results
Bilateral Contracts and Grants with Industry
Partnerships and Cooperations
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Section: Application Domains


Robotics in the manufacturing industry is already widespread and is one of the strategies put in place to maintain the level of competitiveness of companies based in France and to avoid relocation to cheap labor countries. Yet, in France, it is considered that the level of robotization is insufficient, compared to Germany for instance. One of the challenges is the high investment cost for the acquisition of robotic arms. In recent years, this challenge has led to the development of “generic” and “flexible” (but rigid) robotic solutions that can be mass produced. But their applicability to specific tasks is still challenging or too costly. With the development of 3D printing, we can imagine the development of a complete opposite strategy: a “task-specific” design of robots. Given a task that needs to be performed by a deformable robot, we could optimize its shape and its structure to create the set of desired motions. A second important aspect is the reduction of the manufacturing cost: it is often predicted that the cost of deformable robots will be low compared to classical rigid robots. The robot could be built on one piece using rapid prototyping or 3D printers and be more adapted for collaborative work with operators. In this area, using soft materials is particularly convenient as they provide a mass/carried load ratio several orders of magnitude higher than traditional robots, highly decreasing the kinetic energy thus increasing the motion speed allowed in presence of humans. Moreover, the technology allows more efficient and ergonomic wearable robotic devices, opening the option for exo-skeletons to be used by human operators inside the factories and distribution centers. This remains to be put in place, but it can open new perspectives in robotic applications. A last remarkable property of soft robots is their adaptability to fragile or tortuous environments. For some particular industry fields (chemistry, food industry...) this could also be an advantage compared to existing rigid solutions. For instance, the German company, key player in the industrial robotics field, is experimenting with deformable trunk robots that exhibit great compliance and adaptability, and we are working on their accurate control.