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Soft robotic device capable of growth

Stanford Reference:



Mechanical engineers at Stanford have patented a soft robot with a vine-like structure capable of growing over 100 times in length. The pneumatics-powered robot can withstand being stepped on, extend through gaps a quarter of its height, climb stairs as large as a meter per step, and navigate over rough, slippery, sticky, and aquatic terrain – or, at a smaller scale, through tortuous blood vessels. Within its region of growth, it provides sensing like traditional mobile robots, and a physical conduit, such as a water hose that grows to a fire, an oxygen tube that grows to a trapped disaster victim, or a catheter that grows to a tumor.

One Type of Vine Robot at Various Lengths
To see charmlab vine robots in action, see the publications and related web links videos.
Image courtesy the charmlab

Stage of Development-Prototype
The researchers have made a variety of robot prototypes and run them through challenging tests.


  • Autonomous robots for hazardous environments. For example, the robot could grow into a burning building to the base of a fire and deliver water to put out the blaze, or grow to a trapped individual and deliver oxygen.
  • Medical and surgical devices as an active catheter. In place of a tube that is pushed through the body, this type of soft robot could grow without drag along delicate structures.


  • Highly extendable - Researchers have demonstrated this robot can grow as much as 100 body lengths, up to 70 meters.


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Innovators & Portfolio

Patent Status

Date Released

 7/27/2017 12:00

Licensing Contact

Chris Tagge, Licensing Associate
(650) 725-8402
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Related Keywords

PS: robotics: flexible   MD: surgical tools: navigation   PS: robotics   MD: surgical tools   search and rescue   MD: catheters   PS: haptics   PS: haptics: robotics   PS: haptics: surgical & medical simulations