Flexible robot gets color changing capability

Aug 17, 2012

If you're the sort geek who really likes robots, you may remember last November when I talked a little bit about a soft robot that was designed to move like a starfish. The robot was made from a soft and flexible rubber material and used compressed air pump inside the structure to move. One of the key attributes of the soft robot was its ability to move underneath a pane of glass that was only 2 cm off the ground.

An updated version of that robot has now surfaced from researchers at Harvard University that is designed exactly like the robot from last year with one notable addition. The new version of the robot now has camouflage skills that allow it to either stand out or blend into its surroundings. The robots camouflage system is likened to that used by certain sea creatures such as cuttlefish, squid, and octopus.

The new camouflage enabled robot comes from the same team that released the plain robot last year. The robot is made from silicon-based polymers and is still driven by air that is pumped into tiny cylinders in the robot's legs. In the camouflage version, the robot is covered in a network of tiny channels filled that various dyes can be pumped into.

By quickly pumping dye into the channels, the robot can be made to blend into its surroundings. According to the scientists, the bot can also be made to thermally camouflage itself by pumping in hot or cold fluids. The bot can also be pumped full of fluorescent fluids to allow it to glow-in-the-dark. In the current design, the fluid for camouflaging the robot comes from an external reservoir, but the researchers say in the future it could be incorporated directly into the body of the robot.

[via BBC]

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