This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.


Flexible endoscopes can snake through narrowpassages to treat difficult to reach areas of the body. However, once they arrive at their target, these devices rely on rigid surgical tools tomanipulate or remove tissue. These tools offer surgeons reduced dexterity and sensing, limiting the current therapeutic capabilities of the endoscope. Now, researchers fromthe

Harvard John A Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and theWyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have developed a hybrid rigid-soft robotic armfor endoscopeswith integrated sensing, flexibility andmultiple degrees of freedom. This arm— built using pop-up fabrication and soft lithography — lies flat on an endoscope until it arrives at the desired spot, then pops up to assist in surgical procedures Soft robots are so promising

for surgical applications because they canmatch the stiffness of the body,meaning theywon’t accidentally puncture or tear tissue. However, at small scales, softmaterials cannot generate enough force to performsurgical tasks. “At themillimetre scale, a soft

device becomes so soft that it can’t damage tissue but it also can’tmanipulate the tissue in anymeaningfulway,” said research leader Tommaso Ranzani. “That limits the application of softmicrosystems for performing therapy. The question is, howcanwe develop soft robots that are still able to generate the necessary forces without compromising safety?” Inspired by biology, the team

developed a hybrid model that used a rigid skeleton surrounded by softmaterials. Previous pop-up manufacturing techniques have relied on actuation methods that require high voltages or temperatures to operate, something that wouldn’t be safe in a surgical tool directlymanipulating biological tissues and organs. So, the teamintegrated soft

actuators into the pop-up system. The soft actuators are powered bywater. They are connected to the rigid componentswith an irreversible chemical bond,without the need for any adhesive. The team demonstrated the integration of simple capacitive sensing that can be used tomeasure forces


Users of industrial robots from manufacturing to healthcare are unprepared for the real risk of a hacking attack, warns a leading cyber security expert. With the worldwide number

of robots in smart factories now topping 1million, Ross Thomson, principal consultant at Amethyst Risk Management, which advises government and industry on cyber security, cites

a lack of awareness as the reasonmost operators have not tackled the threat, whichmight come fromdisgruntled employees, criminals, recreational hackers or nation states. “Many firms believe hackers

only want personal or financial data, but there is a credible risk to industrial robots,” said Thomson. He points out the risk

4 /// Environmental Engineering /// October 2017

is growing as robots, like other devices, are increasingly connected to wider networks and the internet. That gives hackersmore ways in, and the consequences are potentially disastrous. In one example, attackers

locked up a robotic assembly plant in Mexico and demanded a ransomfromthe operators. Thomson also highlights the

safety risk for human factory operatives if a robot were to be hacked. One kind of attack would

inject faults or defects in the production process, or lock it down completely, leading to loss of production and revenue. If defective productsmake it

tomarket, they can cause reputational damage, a potential advantage that could

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60