Nov 9, 2022

Materials Made of Mechanical Neural Networks Can Learn to Adapt Their Physical Properties

Posted by in categories: materials, robotics/AI

A new type of material can learn and improve its ability to deal with unexpected forces thanks to a unique lattice structure with connections of variable stiffness, as described in a new paper by my colleagues and me.

The new material is a type of architected material, which gets its properties mainly from the geometry and specific traits of its design rather than what it is made out of. Take hook-and-loop fabric closures like Velcro, for example. It doesn’t matter whether it is made from cotton, plastic or any other substance. As long as one side is a fabric with stiff hooks and the other side has fluffy loops, the material will have the sticky properties of Velcro.

My colleagues and I based our new material’s architecture on that of an artificial neural network—layers of interconnected nodes that can learn to do tasks by changing how much importance, or weight, they place on each connection. We hypothesized that a mechanical lattice with physical nodes could be trained to take on certain mechanical properties by adjusting each connection’s rigidity.

Leave a reply