Future Opportunities

We had a lot of fun working on this project. We have filed a provisional patent on the Fordmula, US Patent Application Number 62/517,299, entitled "EDIBLE PNEUMATIC SOFT ROBOTIC ACTUATORS", filed on June 9, 2017 by The Haverford School. Moving forward we are still thinking of how we could potentially market the soft robotic gummy bears as a toy and a learning tool. The details around the product still need to be worked out. Detail such as, who makes the actuators, us or the kids, and how would they inflate the actuator. While we have not yet fully solved the connection between the air source and the actuator, that is the main thing to focus on if we want  sell the product. We are currently holding it with our fingers and as we continue to develop this project further, we'd like to focus on a secure connection point.

We are proud of our creation as it is something to our knowledge that has never been done before, 100% edible actuators. We believe that we have made progress in the field of edible actuators that taste good. After seeing the kids play with the actuators we have come up with a list of a few action items for us to do moving forward as we continue this project.

1. Make the Fordmula taste good. While the Fordmula works well as an actuator, we need to improve its  taste. While we have experimented with adding flavor a few times, our main focus was successful actuation with grocery store materials. Moving forward we aim to make the Fordmula as pleasant to eat as a gummy bear. We have done some preliminary testing with adding flavoring to the Fordmula, while it is safe to eat, it is not incredibly tasteful yet.

2. A good connection to an air source. Part of the reason why the product would occasionally leak is because we were adding tubing and holding that tubing in place by hand. This could cause the gummy material to tear in places creating leaks. We believe that the biggest thing for us to work on at the moment is to create a good connection between the air source and the actuators. Essentially we want to develop a valve for the actuators. We are thinking of creating a valve out of hard candy to continue to the theme of candy. Plastic may also be an option similar to a lollipop stick.

Our project was to create gummy bear actuators which function and taste good, both of which we did. We were not happy with some aspects of the gummy bear actuators and we decided to create our own formulation known as the Fordmula. Both actuators work well but we recognize that we still have to make some minor changes to the Fordmula to make it even better.

All in all we believe that our research in gelatin actuators has applications both in the body and in the classroom furthering the field of soft robotics.

Figure 54: Physically holding the air source to the actuator