How soft robots will help sick kids and the elderly walk

The SRI International campus is nestled on a quiet tree-lined Silicon Valley street, down the road from a high school and a seminary. The commuter train runs nearby. Its buildings are nondescript brick constructions that harken back to the 1970s. By all accounts, it’s a rather unimpressive place. But within its walls, scientists are building the future. SRI has been at the forefront of computer science, artificial intelligence and robotics since the 60s. Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant, was born here. So was Shakey, a quasi-autonomous robot whose navigation technology is still used by car companies and space agencies today. SRI International/Wikipedia Shakey in 1972. For the last two decades, roboticist Roy Kornbluh has been working here on a different breed of machine: a soft one, which has the potential to…

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