Soft robots are pretty neat: Replacing hard components with silicon and air makes them safer and more durable. Engineers are still working on making soft robots that can crawl into crumbling buildings and perform intricate surgeries, but thanks to a new toolkit from Harvard, so can you.
The Web site gives you everything you need to design a soft robot: You can 3D print basic mold designs (assuming, of course, you have a 3D printer -- or access to one, via a workshop or DIY collective) or follow tutorials to learn how to design your own.
Then, use the site's step-by-step instructions to cast the robotic components in silicon. Not sure where to buy your materials? The toolkit offers quick shopping links.
The toolkit site also gives instructions for building a basic control board -- which you can use as-is or modify to suit your own needs -- so you can get your bot mobile.
In addition to helping you build an army of robotic octopus minions, the shared space will help the fledgling soft robotics community to collaborate with each other. By making as many components of successful robots free and easy for others to play with, we can speed up the process of building a better bot.