iRobot developing inflatable robot arms, inflatable robots

August 24, 2012

Inflatable robot arm (credit: iRobot)

DARPA has just approved for public release a video of this awesome project: a fully controllable robot arm that can be inflated and deflated like a balloon, IEEE Spectrum Automaton reports.

The AIRarm is lightweight, inexpensive, and stows compactly. It’s inflated and deflated with an on-board pump, and uses actuators and strings to move its joints without embedded motors.

Despite its light weight, AIRarm can lift up to five pounds, or possibly more depending on how much its inflated. By varying the level of inflation, it’s also possible to vary the level of compliance of the arm: this makes the arm a little bit flexible when you need it to be, which in turn makes it safer and more durable. Oh, and since it’s mostly made of fabric and string, it’s wicked cheap, at least compared to a conventional arm.