The Terminator-style robot can survive being stabbed
The Terminator-style robot can survive being stabbed
Sci-fi fans will know that the Terminator was only a merciless killing machine because of its effortless ability to heal itself after taking damage.
Now, engineers at Cornell University in New York may be well on their way to recreating this remarkable self-healing ability.
Experts have created a robot that can detect when and where it has been damaged and then restore itself in the same place.
The small, soft robot, which resembles a four-legged starfish, uses light to detect changes to its surface created by cuts.
The tiny robot, which looks like a starfish, is able to detect when and where it was damaged and then heal itself.
How it works?
For self-healing to work, the robot must be able to identify that there is something that needs fixing.
To do this, the researchers used fiber-optic sensors along with LED lights capable of detecting tiny changes on the robot’s surface.
These sensors are combined with a polyurethane urea elastomer that incorporates hydrogen bonds, for rapid chemical cure.
The resulting SHEaLDS, self-healing light guides for dynamic sensing, provides a damage-resistant soft robot that can automatically heal from cuts at room temperature without any external intervention.
After the researchers punctured one of its legs, the robot was able to detect the damage and self-heal the incisions.
“Our lab is always trying to make robots more durable and agile, so they run longer with more capabilities,” said Professor Rob Shepherd of Cornell University.
“If you run robots for a long time, they will accumulate damage. So how can we enable them to repair or deal with that damage?’
While not indestructible, Shepherd said the new starfish robot, which is only about five inches long, has properties similar to human flesh.
“It doesn’t cure well from burning, or things with acid or heat, because that will change the chemical properties,” he said.
“But we can do a good job of healing from the cuts.”
The team’s X-shaped robot moves like a starfish thanks to compressed air being pumped through its body.
It is covered with a layer of self-healing fiber optic sensors, which are coupled with LED lights capable of detecting small changes on its surface.
In fiber optic sensors, light from an LED is sent through a structure called an optical waveguide, which guides the light beam in a specific direction.
Also on the robot is a photodiode, which detects changes in light intensity to determine when and where the material is being deformed.
For the actual healing process, they used urea polyurethane elastomer for their “skin,” a transparent, elastic material that incorporates hydrogen bonds.
Terminators are capable of repairing themselves. Pictured, Arnold Schwarzenegger in ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
After the researchers punctured one of its legs, the robot was able to detect the damage and self-heal the cuts.
The soft robot can sweat like humans
Robots have been created by scientists that “sweat” like humans during demanding tasks to avoid overheating.
The researchers developed a technique that allows machines to “sweat” the coolant stored around the component responsible for moving and controlling the system.
Robots and machines generate heat as a by-product during tasks, but this can cause it to malfunction if not cooled.
When cut, their exposed sides become chemically reactive, causing the intertwined polymer chains to rearrange to heal themselves.
The researchers say their so-called SHeaLDS technology – “self-healing light guides for dynamic sensing” – enables a damage-resistant soft robot that can automatically heal from cuts at room temperature without any external intervention.
In their experiments, they punctured one of the robot’s legs six times, after which the robot was able to detect the damage, self-heal each cut in about a minute, and keep moving.
The robot could also adapt its gait autonomously based on the damage it detected, such as “animals’ escape response to danger.”
The team now wants to integrate the bot with machine learning algorithms capable of recognizing different “touch events” by which it can be damaged.
“Combined with advances in artificial intelligence, SHeaLDS presents a route to more durable and adaptive robots,” they say in their paper, published in the journal. Advances in Science.
“Damage intelligence is essential in damage-prone environments such as spacesuits and supersonic parachute monitoring in space, as well as applications where device longevity is preferred, such as wearables for human interaction with the machine”.
The robot is covered with a layer of self-healing fiber optic sensors, which are coupled with LED lights capable of detecting small changes on its surface.
In general, soft robots are built from flexible materials, inspired by the soft tissue that humans and other organisms are made of.
The problem is that the soft materials used make them susceptible to damage from sharp objects or excessive pressure.
With self-healing, robots could repair soft-body systems in certain environments, such as spacesuits damaged by space debris or underwater equipment.
Further development of the technology could also allow Terminator-style killer robots, built for the battlefield, to repair damage sustained in combat.
Soft robots mimic living tissue to enable them to better perform human tasks
Soft robots are systems built with materials with mechanical properties similar to those of living tissues.
#Soft robots are built from flexible materials, inspired by the soft tissue that humans and many other organisms are made of.
Their flexibility allows them to be used for a wide variety of applications, from gripping delicate and soft objects in the food industry to performing minimally invasive surgery.
They could also play an important role in creating real prosthetics.
However, soft materials also make them susceptible to damage from sharp objects or excessive pressure.
Damaged components must then be replaced to prevent the robot from ending up on the scrap heap.
In 2017, experts at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels (VUB) said they had created a synthetic skin that aims to mimic nature’s self-healing abilities, allowing robots to recover from “wounds” sustained while carrying out their functions .
Professor Bram Vanderborght from BruBotics VUB, who worked on the plastic, said: “The research result opens up promising perspectives.
“Not only can robots be made lighter and safer, but they will also be able to work independently longer without requiring constant repairs.”
To create their synthetic meat, the scientists used gelatin-like polymers that melt into each when heated and then cooled.
When damaged, these materials first return to their original shape and then heal completely.
This principle was applied in three self-healing robotic components; a gripper, a robot hand and an artificial muscle.
These tough pneumatic components were damaged under controlled conditions to test whether the scientific principle also works in practice.
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