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Award-Winning Invention Enables Exciting New Applications of Robots

FlowIO, a development platform that allows researchers across the globe to quickly and easily create “soft” robots, has earned a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) the Grand P**** of $25,000 in the 2022 Create the Future Design Contest, produced by SAE Media Group.

Soft robotics is expected to grow into a multibillion-dollar market. Featuring flexible bodies and electronics, these compliant robots are safer than rigid metal machines when working in close contact with humans. Their development could lead to superior prosthetics, new wearable devices, and edible robots that deliver medicine to targeted parts of the body. Nimble climbing robots could be used in applications such as search and rescue missions and building inspection.

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“I feel honored and excited to be the winner of the Create the Future Grand P**** award,” said Ali Shtarbanov, inventor of FlowIO Platform. “It serves as validation that the journey I have been on for many years – of creating a future where prototyping & innovation in emerging fields is more rapid, seamless, and accessible to everyone – is a journey worth pursuing.”

The platform, Shtarbanov says, “allows researchers, engineers, artists, and makers of all backgrounds to focus on the actual projects or applications they are trying to create without having to deal of the hardware and software complexities required to make those projects a reality.”

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Engineers and students from 56 countries submitted new product ideas to the contest, which was established in 2002 to recognize and reward engineering innovations that benefit humanity, the environment, and the economy. This year’s contest was co-sponsored by COMSOL ( and Mouser Electronics ( Analog Devices and Intel were supporting sponsors.

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“As society is facing major challenges that can impact our way of life for generations to come — such as climate change, energy shortages, and global health crises — innovators are stepping up to deliver solutions and a better tomorrow for all of us,” said Bernt Nilsson, Senior VP of Marketing at COMSOL, Inc. “The Create the Future Design Contest provides a platform for these ideas and the people behind them, creating awareness and accelerating the adoption of new products and technologies. COMSOL is proud to support design innovators and their important work by sponsoring the Create the Future Design Contest.”

“C************** to this amazing group of winners and to all who entered this year’s contest,” said Kevin Hess, Mouser Senior Vice President of Marketing. “Part of Mouser’s mission is fostering technical innovation, and we’re proud to support this global design contest that celebrates incredible creativity and insight into the future of technology.”

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