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Harvard's homebrew robot wars: University offers free toolkit to budding roboteers

Harvard University and Ireland's Trinity College have joined forces to launch a toolkit that provides enthusiasts and robot builders with all the "intellectual" tools they need to build their own soft robots.

The toolkit contains a range of information, including how-to guides, tutorials, open-source plans and details about the various parts you might need.

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A main feature for those less experienced in the field is that it offers the chance for collaboration between designers, as it provides a common resource for the sharing of designs, techniques and technical knowledge.

Trinity College's Dónal Holland, currently a visiting lecturer at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, said, "One thing we've seen in design courses is that students greatly benefit from access to more experienced peers - say, postdocs in a research lab - who can guide them through their work.

"But scaling that up is difficult; you quickly run out of time and people. The toolkit is designed to capture the expertise and make it easily accessible to students."

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Harvard defines soft robotics as combining the "classical principles of robot design with the study of soft, flexible materials" and the toolkit itself, along with plenty of extra information, can be accessed for free from the official website.