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Scientists create shapeshifting robot that can turn into liquid and escape a cage

The robot can change its shape and properties between solid and liquid states by melting at a temperature of under 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

Image Source: YouTube/Science X

Robotics has become increasingly crucial in numerous fields such as manufacturing, healthcare, exploration and more. By automating tasks and performing them with greater accuracy and efficiency, robots can improve productivity, quality and safety, while freeing up human workers for more complex and creative tasks. New technology in robotics is constantly developing. Scientists from The Chinese University of Hong Kong have developed a shape-shifting robot that can change between liquid and solid states while also being able to conduct electricity and possess magnetic abilities, reports Insider. The findings were published in the scientific journal Matter, stating that this new ability adds more functionality to robots.

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The idea of creating such a robot was inspired by sea cucumbers, which are capable of rapidly and reversibly changing their stiffness. Senior author on the project, Carmel Majidi of Carnegie Mellon University, told Science News about this inspiration. Chengfeng Pan, an engineer at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, who led the research, said, "Giving robots the ability to switch between liquid and solid states endows them with more functionality."

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According to The Smithsonian Magazine, traditional robots cannot always access small spaces due to their hard bodies, while more flexible ones are often too fragile. Therefore, the scientists decided to develop a robot that could change between solid and liquid states, making it strong and flexible. The robot can change its shape and properties between solid and liquid states by melting at a temperature of under 86 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, magnetic particles were added to the metal to allow the scientists to manipulate the robot's movements or melting through the use of magnets.

 

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Majidi said, "The magnetic particles here have two roles. One is that they make the material responsive to an alternating magnetic field, so you can, through induction, heat up the material and cause the phase change. But the magnetic particles also give the robots mobility and the ability to move in response to the magnetic field." According to the study, the shape-shifting robot successfully melted and escaped from a cage during a test before reverting to its initial shape. Furthermore, the robot demonstrated impressive capabilities by "jumping over moats, climbing walls, and even splitting in half to collaboratively move other objects before reassembling." The researchers pointed out that the robot's shape-shifting ability could be advantageous in the field of biomedical science, as demonstrated by its successful removal of a foreign object from a model stomach in an experiment.

 

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Majidi said, "What we're showing are just one-off demonstrations, proofs of concept, but much more study will be required to delve into how this could actually be used for drug delivery or for removing foreign objects." Robotics has achieved several advancements in the world and one of those advancements includes employing paralyzed people. In Tokyo, Japan, a café has come up with a novel approach to provide opportunities for paralyzed individuals to earn an income and engage socially, using the remote control robot as waiters. The Dawn Ver café has recruited around ten individuals with various mobility constraints to operate the robots. The participants, known as robot controllers, receive a standard wage of 1000 yen ($7.66) per hour, equivalent to that of traditional waiting staff in Japan. The project aims to promote independence among people with disabilities.

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