Soft robots are nothing new but they could be quite bulky. Engineers at UC San Diego have developed soft actuators that can make soft robots more compact, portable, and multifunctional. These soft, tubular actuators have electrically controlled movement.
As the researchers explain:
The actuators are made from a type of material used for artificial muscles in robots, called liquid crystal elastomers. They are composed of liquid crystal molecules embedded in a stretchy polymer network. What’s special about these materials is they change shape, move and contract in response to stimuli such as heat or electricity