An international group of scientists have developed a soft robotic arm that literally sweats in response to the excess heat. This innovative concept can increase the longevity and endurance of the robots and allow them to work in extreme conditions, reports popmech.ru.
Soft, sweaty hand of the robot is the result of a very unusual study that was recently published in Science is Robotics. Developed by researchers from Cornell University, Facebook Reality Labs and the Center microbiorobotics in Pisa, the robots maintain a stable body temperature by releasing sweat through tiny pores. Even if it is only a trial sample, but in the future based on it will be possible to create robots capable of working for extended periods of time without risk of overheating.
Why sweat the robots
Thermoregulation is one of the biggest problems faced by modern robototehnika. The main task of robots is to replace humans in tough applications, such as in a foundry. Being exposed to constant high temperatures, even the most robust mechanisms are very easily damaged.
Evolution adapted our body to temperature very elegant way, through the allocation of the excess fluid. The ability to sweat, as strange as it may sound, is one of the most important factors ensuring the survival of humanity as a species. The combination of sweating, lack of thick wool and the vertical orientation of the body with the support of just two limbs allow the hunters of antiquity literally chase prey by pursuit over long distances.
Professional marathon runners can lose up to 3.5 liters of fluid per hour during the race. They spend about 2.4 kilowatts of power — that is, consumption is more than most household appliances. In addition, evaporation may also lower the temperature of objects in the environment and to improve the conductivity. This prompted scientists to create a new generation sweating robots.
How it works
To manufacture such a boat, the researchers printed out on a 3D printer actuators special liquid made from hydrogels. The lower layer was kept in a fairly large amount of water that absorbed heat as the filling. The upper layers have been provided with micropores, which allows to push the liquid as necessary.
All this became possible mainly thanks to the material called poly-N-isopropylacrylamide (PNIPAm). He is able to respond to temperature, so that the robot does not need additional sensors. As a result, the robot literally sweating only when the systems needed extra cooling, without consuming extra energy.
During testing, the robots were exposed to strong winds. This allowed to find out that sweating the details was cooled to six times faster than their standard counterparts. Moreover, scientists claim that the ability to regulate heat from their inventions is much higher than even the animals. Chilled then hand, for example, could manipulate even very hot objects without risk of burning.
Of course, there are a number of limitations. In particular, the sweat makes the robot manipulators are slippery (who would have thought), which complicates the delicate surgery. In addition, the liquid in the body of the bot could simply end, after which he began to experience notable problems. Currently, researchers are looking for the solution to these and other problems. They already said that the most convenient way to fill the fluid for the robot will be connecting it to a gas station — only instead of fuel and electricity it will be just water.