Mar 13, 2022

The next generation of robots will be shape-shifters

Posted by in categories: nanotechnology, physics, robotics/AI

Physicists have discovered a new way to coat soft robots in materials that allow them to move and function in a more purposeful way. The research, led by the UK’s University of Bath, is described today in Science Advances.

Authors of the study believe their breakthrough modeling on ‘active matter’ could mark a turning point in the design of robots. With further development of the concept, it may be possible to determine the shape, movement and behavior of a soft solid not by its natural elasticity but by human-controlled activity on its .

The surface of an ordinary soft material always shrinks into a sphere. Think of the way water beads into droplets: the beading occurs because the surface of liquids and other soft material naturally contracts into the smallest surface area possible—i.e. a sphere. But active matter can be designed to work against this tendency. An example of this in action would be a rubber ball that’s wrapped in a layer of nano-robots, where the robots are programmed to work in unison to distort the ball into a new, pre-determined shape (say, a star).

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