Since we live in an era best described by technological innovation, it’s only natural for a whole slew of teams of experts to work on as many different projects as possible. In one of the most recent technological advances in robotics, a team of scientists from the Cornell University developed soft bendy color changing skin for robots.
The new artificial skin developed by scientists from the Cornell University led by doctorate candidate Chris Larson can not only stretch to far more than 500 times its original size, but it also starts glowing brighter and brighter.
Far stretchier than human skin or even octopus skin, the new artificial skin’s texture resembles a rubber band, or a balloon. And despite it not quite resembling octopus skin, it was most definitely inspired by one, as was the robot currently using it.
Using the same principle behind the octopus beak, which can move and stretch to a huge extent, the team of researchers basically created a balloon that stretches when pressurized. By placing an unrelenting carbon fiber support on the bottom and allowing the top to respond to both inside and outside pressure, the team created a tiny robot.
According to a release from the American Association for the Advancement of Science,
The researchers created a three-chamber robot from the material, with the newly developed ‘skin’ layers on top and inflatable layers below that allow movement. As the chambers expand linearly, the robot moves forward with a worm-like wiggle.
Despite the type of skin being developed before, what’s truly innovative about the design is that it’s capable of lighting up despite having no actual electronics embedded in it. The team solved this by using a hyperelastic light-emitting capacitor.
Our system has that same capability [to sense pressure] but it also can emit light. So the type of skin that we’ve been able to develop is actually more similar to that of an octopus.
By compressing perpendicular to the line upon which it is being stretched, just like a rubber sheet, the tiny robot moving with an undulating gait can get brighter the longer it walks. This glow is generated by the embedded electric field, and depending on what mix of chemicals is used in developing the skin, it can glow in many different colors.
Of course, this is a pretty big breakthrough in robotics, as it will allow us the opportunity to better connect with our robot companions (once we get them). If the machines that will most likely be living in our houses within two decades will be able to change colors in order to transmit emotions, we’ll have a far easier time getting accustomed to them.
Image source: YouTube