Self-Healing (Robot) for Dummies: Just Add Heat

Khryss | Published 2017-08-26 01:11

No, don't hurt yourself, like, at all. This is only applicable to self-healing robots.

As if it's not already super unfair that robots can have superhuman strength and look sexy in everything, here I present you another proof that life is unjust and all your life you will never achieve even half of what you dream of.

Robots can now heal themselves. Like wolverine. Life is fvcked up.

For a long time, roboticists have attempted to use soft, elastic materials, but all these have the inclination to break, making them inapt for purpose. However, a newly discovered technique can create jelly-skinned robots (let's call them jellybots!) that heal themselves when things go wrong.

Scientists at the Free University of Brussels (VUB) in Belgium managed to give robots self-healing properties which allow them to recover even when they are gashed with any sharp object. The researchers created a gripper, a robot hand, and an artificial muscle, out of rubbery jelly-like polymers that meld together when heated. They were able to damage all three without leaving any weak spots and knitted the parts back together entirely, reorganizing the different strands that locked together to form the material. All done with a little heat.

"The outcome of the research opens up promising perspectives," says Bram Vanderborght, who led the research in BruBotics and Flanders Make. He claims that he and his colleagues will continue this research as this could develop the properties to become automatic, by tweaking the material and/or by creating bots that can apply the heat themselves, making them independent from all the manual tinkering and repairing the scientists have to do constantly. "Robots can not only be made lighter and safe, they will also be able to work longer independently without requiring constant repairs," he adds.

These jelly-like robots are ideal for picking up delicate items like fruit or veggies, which could be tremendously essential in the food industry. Additionally, they can also be useful for working alongside humans -- be it in factory lines, where softer robots or robotic arms could help avoid hazardous accidents.

Amazing as it is terrifying, these self-healing jellybots continue to develop at an incredible pace. This will evidently play an important role in creating human-like prosthetics. A strategist for the New America Foundation, Peter Singer, says that the US military should brace for battles against killer-machines. His thoughts, echoed by Jason Healy, a senior research scholar in cyber conflict at Columbia University predicts that the development of cyborg armies are not an impossible armament in the military, as this could happen in a decade or so.

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