Terminator-style shape changing robots, soon a reality

If you are a robo-fan, here is some good new for you.

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: If you are a robo-fan, here is some good new for you.

Scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are working on robots that could be flexible enough to change their forms just as you must have seen in the movie `Terminator 2`, where the T-1000 robot moulds itself into a liquid form to pass through tight spaces or to repair itself when damaged.
Scientists are considering it a breakthrough as it will pave way for robots which can be used for surgical purposes to locate the damage areas inside a body.

The material developed by Anette Hosoi, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and colleagues - could be used to build deformable surgical robots.

The robot could move through the body to reach a particular point without damaging any of the organs or vessels along the way.

Robots built from the material could also be used in search-and-rescue operations to squeeze through rubble looking for survivors, Hosoi said.

Working with robotics company Boston Dynamics, researchers began developing the material as part of the Chemical Robots programme of the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
To build a material capable of shifting between squishy and rigid states, the researchers coated a foam structure in wax. They chose foam because it can be squeezed into a small fraction of its normal size, but once released will bounce back to its original shape.

The wax coating, meanwhile, can change from a hard outer shell to a soft, pliable surface with moderate heating. This could be done by running a wire along each of the coated foam struts and then applying a current to heat up and melt the surrounding wax. Turning off the current again would allow the material to cool down and return to its rigid state.

The research was published in the journal Macromolecular Materials and Engineering.

(With Agency inputs)

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