Researchers at US university Carnegie Mellon have created a new electrically conductive material that can repair itself, presenting new opportunities for soft robotics and wearable technology. Combining properties of metal and plastic, the supple, stretchy material can be used to make circuits that stay operational even after sustaining physical damage. The discovery opens up the possibility that robots may one day have sensor-laden skin that can repair itself like a human's, or that we could sport ultra-thin wearable devices on our bodies for long periods of time without them degrading. "This could have important applications in areas like wearable computing, where you want circuits you can incorporate into textiles or place on your skin, and just like natural skin if you get bruised or cut, your skin is able to repair itself," says Carmel Majidi, an associate professor of mechanical engineering, in a video produced by Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). "Our material also has this property."
Researchers have developed an electronic rubber material that will help create soft, stretchy robots and electronics. The material, given the nickname'thubber,' can conduct heat and is also elastic in a similar way to biological tissue - and was even used by researchers to create a robotic fish with a'thubber' tail. The material can stretch to over six time its length and be used in heated garments for injury therapy as well as soft robotics and even flexible electronics such as an iPad that can fit into your wallet. A: The researchers created a soft-robotic fish that can swim using a tail made of'thubber.' The fish was composed of a silicon body and caudal fin connected by the thubber.
Origami robots can be formed by tightly integrating multiple functions of actuation, sensing and communication. But the task is challenging as conventional materials including plastics and paper used for such robotic designs impose constraints to limit add-on functionalities. To install multifunctionalities to the system scientists must typically include external electronics that increase the weight of the robot. In a recent study now published on Science Robotics, Haitao Yang and colleagues at the interdisciplinary departments of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering in the U.S. and Singapore developed a graphene oxide (GO)-enabled templating synthesis process to produce reconfigurable, compliant and multifunctional metallic backbones. The backbones formed the basis for origami robots coupled with built-in strain sensing and wireless communication capabilities.
If there's one thing that scientists absolutely should be working on, it's a self-regenerating robo-Deadpool or the eerily-fluid T-1000 Terminator. Thankfully, a team of scientists just took an important first step towards building a robot that can keep on truckin' even with a couple of bullet holes improve its ventilation. Okay, so maybe they weren't working on killer robots and (probably) didn't subject their research to gunfire, but what they did do is create a soft, flexible electronic material that can automatically repair its circuits when it gets damaged. The new "skin" is made of droplets of liquid metal housed within a rubber-like material that can bend, fold, and stretch. Calling it "self-repairing" is a bit of a misnomer, as the stretchy material won't stitch itself together.
The Venus flytrap may be known for its jaws of death, but the carnivorous plant has inspired a gentle device. Engineers have developed a soft, gripping device that can sense and pick up objects up to 100 bigger than itself, mimicking the ferocious plant. And the simple soft object, capable of identifying its targets, could be used to handle delicate items autonomously one day which could transform manufacturing. Venus flytraps recognise their prey using touch-sensitive trigger hairs located on the trap's inner surface. When stimulated, these hairs generate an electric signal that is transmitted to the plant.