A soft robot designed in the form of a salamander is displayed in Singapore June 5, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su
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Softer, lighter and less reliant on external power, future robots could interact more safely and predictably with humans, go where humans can't, and do some of the robotic jobs that other robots still can't manage.One robot on display was made of origami paper; another resembled a rolling colostomy bag.For now, much of the commercial action for softer robots is in logistics, replacing production-line jobs that can't yet be handled by hard robots.Some hope to ditch the idea that robots need hands.The ocean has inspired other robots, too.To be sure, the nascent soft robot industry lacks an ecosystem of software, hardware components and standards – and some companies have already failed. Empire Robotics, one of the first soft robot gripper companies, closed last year.Wrench, whose Cambridge Consultants has built its own fruit picking robot, says he expects to see soft robots working with humans to harvest fruit like apples and pears which are harder to damage.
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