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>> Robots of the not too distant future. Softer, lighter, and less reliant on external power, these high-tech and less scary looking machines can go where traditional robots and even humans can't. Reuters Asia Tech Correspondent, Jeremy Wagstaff, says, the industry is already big business. With the applications for soft material robotics are plentiful, and quite a few actually have all ready found their way to market, for example being able to handle fruits without squashing it, being able to pick up an egg without crashing it.
These are important things, but there are also other application. If you could create something soft and pliable, you could, for example, have it inspect the inside of an engine without having to dismantle it, which is what Rolls Royce is exploring at the moment.>> Much of the commercial need for softer robots is now in logistics, replacing production line jobs that can't be handled by hard robots.
Investors are excited, but it's still early days.>> We're probably some way off this kind of thing being commercialized across the board. Venture capital companies are beginning to invest. And we're seeing some of this technology being applied in the medical industry, where robots, obviously, do come into contact with humans quite a bit.
But I don't think we're going to see it in the mainstream robotics industry for a couple of years. This is partly because we're now delving into the realms of material science. We're having to rethink the kind of materials that we are using to make these robots, and that's, obviously, one or two steps away.
>> Even when they do find a niche, chances are they still won't replace all jobs done by humans or hard shell robots, as soft materials break easily. But in an industry expected to be worth almost $200 billion by 2020, scientists are determined to get a grip on the softer side and prove it has a big future.