A robot entirely made of hydrogel that is able to perform a number of tasks
Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a robot entirely made of hydrogel that is able to perform a number of tasks, including kicking a ball underwater and grabbing and releasing a live fish.
Hydrogel is rubbery and nearly transparent material composed mostly of water; each robot is hollow, so when the researchers pump water into the robots, the structures quickly inflate in orientations that enable the bots to curl up or stretch out. The team designed several hydrogel robots, which are both powered by and made almost entirely of water, which means they have similar visual and acoustic properties to water: in underwater applications, they may end up being virtually invisible.
The researchers used 3D printing and laser cutting techniques to print the hydrogel recipes into the robotic structures and other hollow units, which they bonded to small, rubbery tubes that are connected to external pumps. To move the structures, the team used syringe pumps to inject water through the hollow structures, enabling them to quickly curl or stretch, depending on the configuration of the robot. The next step will be to find the specific applications for hydrogel robotics, maybe including the medical applications, in fact hydrogel robots are soft, wet, biocompatible and can form more friendly interface with human organs.
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