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Researchers at Seoul National University in South Korea believe the future of robotics may lie in the environment around us. Unveiling their new robots this past week in the journal Science Robotics, the team have dubbed their creations ‘hygrobots’.  Taking the humidity from their surrounding environment, these robots can crawl, twist, and wriggle around much like a snake or worm.

The bot moving in real time.

Though the robots are definitely worm-like in their behavior, the inspiration for the devices actually came from plants. Plants can change their size and shape by absorbing water from the ground or air in a process called hygroexpansion. For examples, a pine cone closes when it’s wet, and opens when the environment is dry (to release its seeds). By mimicking the behavior of a Pelargonium carnosum seed (from an African shrub), the new hygrobots are able to move without the need for batteries or external power.

The hygrobots are made up of two layers of nanofibers: one that absorbs moisture and one that doesn’t. When placed in a wet environment, the moisture absorbing layer sucks up any available water and swells, which causes the bot to push itself up and away from the surface it sits on. Once this layer eventually dries, the bot goes back down and the cycle repeats. This allows the bot to move forward.

The culture plate, before and after.

Interested in the medical potential of their creation, the South Korean team demonstrated the potential for a hygrobot soaked in antibiotics. Placed within a culture plate filled with bacteria, the robot left behind a sterilized trail, much like a slug would leave a trail of slime behind it. It’s thought that in the future, these robots could be used to deliver drugs to the human body, as they’d propel themselves forward using just the patient’s skin moisture.

They’re no edible gelatin robot, but they’re sure interesting.


Images: Shin et al., Sci. Robot. 3, eaar2629 (2018)

Source: The Verge

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About Corey Sienega

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COREY A. SIENEGA (Geek Media Ventures/Editorial consultant) is a feature film and TV producer whose credits include Kristy, Frailty, Bride of Chucky, Secondhand Lions, Miss Potter and Martian Child. She is currently President of Production at Chaotic Good Studios, which is, coincidentally, also her alignment. Sienega heartily embraces this magazine’s motto of “For the Geek in All of Us.”

The Future of Robotics Is Moisture Power

These tiny robots wriggle around like a snake using the moisture from the air.

By Corey Sienega | 01/30/2018 03:00 PM PT | Updated 01/31/2018 11:33 AM PT

News

Researchers at Seoul National University in South Korea believe the future of robotics may lie in the environment around us. Unveiling their new robots this past week in the journal Science Robotics, the team have dubbed their creations ‘hygrobots’.  Taking the humidity from their surrounding environment, these robots can crawl, twist, and wriggle around much like a snake or worm.

The bot moving in real time.

Though the robots are definitely worm-like in their behavior, the inspiration for the devices actually came from plants. Plants can change their size and shape by absorbing water from the ground or air in a process called hygroexpansion. For examples, a pine cone closes when it’s wet, and opens when the environment is dry (to release its seeds). By mimicking the behavior of a Pelargonium carnosum seed (from an African shrub), the new hygrobots are able to move without the need for batteries or external power.

The hygrobots are made up of two layers of nanofibers: one that absorbs moisture and one that doesn’t. When placed in a wet environment, the moisture absorbing layer sucks up any available water and swells, which causes the bot to push itself up and away from the surface it sits on. Once this layer eventually dries, the bot goes back down and the cycle repeats. This allows the bot to move forward.

The culture plate, before and after.

Interested in the medical potential of their creation, the South Korean team demonstrated the potential for a hygrobot soaked in antibiotics. Placed within a culture plate filled with bacteria, the robot left behind a sterilized trail, much like a slug would leave a trail of slime behind it. It’s thought that in the future, these robots could be used to deliver drugs to the human body, as they’d propel themselves forward using just the patient’s skin moisture.

They’re no edible gelatin robot, but they’re sure interesting.


Images: Shin et al., Sci. Robot. 3, eaar2629 (2018)

Source: The Verge

0   POINTS
0   POINTS



About Corey Sienega

view all posts

COREY A. SIENEGA (Geek Media Ventures/Editorial consultant) is a feature film and TV producer whose credits include Kristy, Frailty, Bride of Chucky, Secondhand Lions, Miss Potter and Martian Child. She is currently President of Production at Chaotic Good Studios, which is, coincidentally, also her alignment. Sienega heartily embraces this magazine’s motto of “For the Geek in All of Us.”