This soft, inchworm robot changes shape in response to tiny electrical or temperature changes. The power-efficient robot is made from a specialized "programmable" polymer technology that, according to the University of Toronto researchers, could someday lead to lightweight and safer robots but also enable other kinds of smart materials. From EurekAlert!:
"In situations where humans could be in danger -- a gas leak or a fire -- we could outfit a crawling robot with a sensor to measure the harmful environment," explains Naguib. "In aerospace, we could see smart materials being the key to next-generation aircrafts with wings that morph."
Though he points out it will be some time before the world sees morphed-wing aircrafts, the most immediate impact will be seen in wearable technology.
"We're working to apply this material to garments. These garments would compress or release based on body temperature, which could be therapeutic to athletes," says Naguib. The team is also studying whether smart garments could be beneficial for spinal cord injuries.
"In this case, we've trained it to move like a worm," he says. "But our innovative approach means we could train robots to mimic many movements -- like the wings of a butterfly."
My buddy Ken Goldberg, a UC Berkeley professor of robotics, his 10-year-old daughter Blooma, and science communicator Ashley Chase wrote a delightful children’s book called How to Train Your Robot! Illustrated by Dave Clegg, the story, about a fourth grade robotics club, is a fun and understandable introduction to how deep learning can help robots […]
Shimon, the robotic maestro from Georgia Tech’s Center for Music Technology, is releasing an album and going on tour. To write lyrics, the robot employs deep learning combined with semantic knowledge and rhyme and rhythm. Shimon has also had a complete facelift giving it a much more expressive mug for singing. In IEEE Spectrum, Evan […]
IEEE Spectrum asked pioneering roboticist Rodney Brooks, co-founder of iRobot and former head of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the eternal engineering question: “What is a robot?” Inspired by computational neuroscientist Warren McCulloch who enjoyed writing sonnets, Brooks responded to the query in iambic pentameter. Here’s the beginning: What Is a Robot? By […]
Gather round, young and old — and hear tales of bygone days. Back in olden times, citizens would mass at a house of coffee, wherein skilled java alchemists would concoct special blends and apply artisanal wizardry to make each steaming chalice an appointment for the taste buds. Granted, said wizards, once known as baristas, were […]
The last few weeks have given us all a lot to think about. As we watched stores close, Costco lines snake through parking lots and items like hand sanitizer and toilet paper disappear everywhere like they were Lady Gaga tickets, there’s one significant takeaway it’s safe to say we all can agree on. We should […]
Whether it was Bach or Chopin, Ray Charles or Jerry Lee Lewis, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Alicia Keys or Norah Jones, there was someone whose mastery on the piano made you think, wow, I wish I knew how to do that. It’s a singular, almost timeless skill — and if you love music, there’s no […]