Soft robots are robots which have soft exteriors and are powered by fluid flowing through internal channels. MIT researchers have developed the first autonomous soft robot capable of rapid body motions. Their creation is a robotic fish that can convulse its body and change direction almost as quickly as a real fish.
The researchers used a 3D printer to build a fish mold, and crafted the tail and head from silicone rubber. A polymer ring protects the electronics stored in the fish's guts.
The field of 'soft robotics' is growing in importance as robots become more present in the physical world, due to the reduced dangers associated with soft-bodied robots. Soft robots are also more flexible; this particular robot's fish-shaped body allows it to change direction in a manner that a hinge-dependent robot cannot.