Most conventional androids are fairly rigid, susceptible to damage and difficult to repair. However, scientists are determined to (literally) give them thicker skins. They've experimented with soft, deformable circuits that are flexible, and could reduce business expenses in the long term -- but are still prone to tearing and puncturing. The solution to these issues may lie in one recent advancement. A group of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have found a way to counter surface damage and electrical failure commonly observed in soft materials used in engineering robotic electronics.
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.
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.
MIT CSAIL's flexible sensors can be applied as skin to the bodies of soft robots. When you picture a robot, you likely envision one large and rigid, with limited movement and an outer shell that is hard to the touch. Several projects currently underway seek to change that, with the use of soft, more human-like artificial skin. Artificial skins include any surface-based device or distributed network of sensors that enable an agent to perceive mechanical deformations, touch, temperature, vibration, and/or pain, according to Ryan Truby, a post-doctoral fellow in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL). Engineers are working to create skins that include as many of these sensations as possible, while also possessing high sensitivity and spatial resolution in sensing, he adds.
Imagine a material that, when cut, can repair itself -- à la Wolverine from "X-Men" -- and is transparent, extremely stretchable, as well as highly conductive. Scientists believe that such a material, if developed, can be used -- among other things -- to create "self-healing" robots and to increase the life of lithium-ion batteries. A team of researchers described, in a study published Friday in the journal Advanced Materials, the creation of such an ionic conductor -- one that is transparent, stretchable and self-healing. The rubber-like material can stretch to a staggering 50 times its original length, and can "heal" in a span of just 24 hours after being cut at room temperature. Moreover, just five minutes after healing, it can be stretched to two times its original length.