Feb 19, 2016

Silly Putty-like substance is helping researchers make shape-shifting robots

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

One of the largest drawbacks in robotics is the rigid parts and movements of the robots. Well, soon that maybe changing due to non-Newtonian fluids.

(Inside Science) — By using fluids similar to Silly Putty that can behave as both liquids and solids, researchers say they have created fluid robots that might one day perform tasks that conventional machines cannot.

Conventional robots are made of rigid parts that are vulnerable to bumps, scrapes, twists and falls. In contrast, researchers worldwide are increasingly developing robots made from soft, elastic plastic and rubber that are inspired by worms, starfish and octopuses. These soft robots can resist many of the kinds of damage, and can squirm past many of the obstacles, that can impede hard robots.

However, even soft robots and the living organisms they are inspired by are limited by their solidity — for example, they remain vulnerable to cutting. Instead, researcher Ido Bachelet of Bar-Ilan University in Israel and his colleagues have now created what they call fluid robots that they say could operate better than solid robots in chaotic, hostile environments. They detailed their findings online Jan. 22 in the journal Artificial Life.

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