Big Hero 6: Have You Hugged Your Soft Robot Baymax Today?
It’s impossible not to love Baymax the inflatable marshmallow of a robot who saves the human hero of the story (named Hiro, pun intended by the writers) in this 2014 animated movie. And surprise, unlike the comic book version, the physical design of Baymax in the movie is just as realistic in terms of morphology as WALL-E. Baymax represents advances in the field of soft robotics, though most of the work is concentrating on manipulation. Soft robots can envelope an object or handle, then harden to form a tight grip– a very different approach from a mechanical hand which normally has to sense the shape of the object, plan motions to orient the hand and grasp the object, and then try not to break the object by grasping too hard. Soft robotics could revolutionize manipulation, but the thought of a huggable robot is delightful. Search the web for articles on Dr. Chris Atkeson at Carnegie Mellon who advised Disney, a good one is 'How to make a huggable robot'.