Sweating is considered smelly and ugly by the majority of the human population. We use antiperspirant deodorants to keep us from soaking our armpits when we exercise, or when we simply have a long day.
We also know that robotics, although far from making the progress prophesized in science fiction, is rapidly advancing towards making anthropomorphic machines. We tend to look upon the robots of the future as slightly improved images of ourselves, emotionless, yet lacking some of the ugly physical flaws that make us human.
Why on Earth, then, would anyone build a sweating robot?
The answer comes from the fact that sweating is actually a very important excretory function that helps regulate our body temperatures. While robot constructors have tried to mimic every aspect of the human locomotor system, they have not managed to find the best way to cool down the various motors when their temperature rises.
In other words, robots overheat. Sure, coolers and radiators that fix this problem already exist, but they take a lot of space and weight. Japanese researchers from the University of Tokyo may have come up with the sweating solution as a way to conserve space on the robotic design.
The sweating robot in question is named Kengoro and you can see what he’s up to by watching the video bellow. Don’t get intimidated by his creepy face. After all, he is a miracle of modern science.
Scientists have been able to create his unique structure with the help of 3D printing. Its base material is aluminum powder, which the scientists have rendered porous and permeable. When any of the robot’s 108 motors start heating, sweat glands release deionized water through the robot’s system. By releasing just the right amount, the water evaporates as soon as it reaches the motors, making them effectively cool down.
With only a cup of deionized water, Kengoro can run for half a day. He can even do very slow pushups for 11 minutes. This sweating method is not as efficient as radiators that are usually used to cool down robots, but it adds more function to Kengoro’s frame.
“Our concept was adding more functions to the frame, using it to transfer water, release heat, and at the same time support forces,” said Toyotaka Kozuki, lead author of the research.
Image source: Wikipedia