Newswise — The prototype for the first fully soft-bodied robot, developed at Tufts University, will be part of an exhibition on "Design and the Elastic Mind" at New York's Museum of Modern Art from February 24 to May 12, 2008.

The MoMA exhibition will showcase some 200 examples of "disruptive innovation" created by scientists, researchers and designers from around the world.

Tufts' squishable "softbot" prototype -- approximately 12 inches long and made of silicon elastomer -- was created as part of ongoing interdisciplinary research at Tufts' School of Arts & Sciences and School of Engineering, led by Professor of Biology Barry Trimmer and Professor of Biomedical Engineering David Kaplan.

The robot design is inspired by the team's findings on both the remarkable neuromechanical system of the Manduca sexta caterpillar and the extraordinary material properties of biopolymers.

"Our work represents the first major effort to design a truly soft-bodied locomoting robot with the workspace capabilities similar to those of a living animal," said Trimmer.

Potential applications for the innovative robots include emergency search and retrieval, medical diagnosis and treatment, manufacturing and aerospace.

Funding for project-related research has been provided by the W.M. Keck Foundation, National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

Tufts University, located on three Massachusetts campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville, and Grafton, and in Talloires, France, is recognized among the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of teaching and research initiatives span all Tufts campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate and professional programs across the university's schools is widely encouraged.

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