Bad news for ophiophobes: National Science Foundation-funded researchers have developed a new and improved snake-inspired soft robot that is faster and more precise than its predecessor. The robot is made using kirigami -- a Japanese paper craft that relies on cuts to change the properties of a material. As the robot stretches, the kirigami surface "pops up" into a 3D-textured surface, which grips the ground just like snake skin. The first-generation robot used a flat kirigami sheet, which transformed uniformly when stretched. The new robot has a programmable shell, meaning the kirigami cuts can pop up as desired, improving the robot's speed and accuracy. The new research combined two properties of the material -- the size of the cuts and the curvature of the sheet. By controlling these features, the researchers were able to program dynamic propagation of pop ups from one end to another, or control localized pop-ups. Next, the researchers aim to develop an inverse design model for more complex deformations.
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