ISLAMABAD-Inspired by the biomechanics of cheetahs, researchers have developed a new type of soft robot that is capable of moving more quickly on solid surfaces or in the water than previous generations of soft robots. The new soft robotics are also capable of grabbing objects delicately – or with sufficient strength to lift heavy objects. “Cheetahs are the fastest creatures on land, and they derive their speed and power from the flexing of their spines,” says Jie Yin, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at North Carolina State University and corresponding author of a paper on the new soft robots. “We were inspired by the cheetah to create a type of soft robot that has a spring-powered, ‘bistable’ spine, meaning that the robot has two stable states,” Yin says. “We can switch between these stable states rapidly by pumping air into channels that line the soft, silicone robot. Switching between the two states releases a significant amount of energy, allowing the robot to quickly exert force against the ground. This enables the robot to gallop across the surface, meaning that its feet leave the ground.