Researchers at Yale University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed a robotic fabric, a breakthrough that could lead to such innovations as adaptive clothing, self-deploying shelters or lightweight shape-changing machinery. Created in the lab of Prof. Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio, the fabric includes actuation, sensing and variable-stiffness fibers, while retaining all the qualities that make fabric useful: flexibility, breathability, small storage footprint and low weight. The researchers have demonstrated the robotic fabric going from a flat to a standing, load-bearing structure. They have also shown a wearable robotic tourniquet and a small airplane with stowable and deployable fabric wings. The results were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Photo: Yale University.