Liquid Humanoid Robot Transformed into LEGO Shape
- A shape-shifting robot can liquefy and reform, allowing it to reach hard-to-reach places.
- Scientists say it could eventually serve as a hands-free tool for extracting swallowed toxic objects.
- Soft robots that can navigate the human body do exist, but they cannot grow stronger under pressure.
Although scientists have been developing magnetically-driven soft robots for years, this particular robot literally oozes what some might describe as terrifying characteristics that would be an exciting feature of a dystopian AI movie involving the end of the world. humanity.
The Lego-like robot can “melt” from solid to liquid and reform itself to get in and out of tight spaces, perform tasks like soldering a circuit board and even escape cages.
In a new study published January 25 in the journal Matter, scientists have shown the incredible strength of this phase-shifting property, which can be controlled remotely with a magnetic field. It is made from a mixture of magnetic materials including neodymium, iron and boron, and gallium, a liquid metal.
The researchers were inspired by nature. A graphic in the article shows sea cucumbers, for example, which can quickly and reversibly change their stiffness.
Most of the existing materials for these robots are able to penetrate delicate spaces like the human body because they are stretchy – but, because they are also strong, unable to traverse the tightest of spaces.
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Additionally, magnetic liquids are fluid but unable to carry heavy objects – unlike this robot which can make itself sturdier and stronger when under pressure or when carrying something heavier than itself, according to the ‘study. A strong robot, about 50 milligrams (or less than an ounce), is capable of carrying about 30 times its own weight.
Camille Fine is a Trending Visual Producer on USA TODAY’s NOW Team.