For decades, robots have advanced the efficiency of human activity. Typically, however, robots are formed from bulky, stiff materials and require connections to external power sources; these features limit their dexterity and mobility. But what if a new material would allow for development of a “soft robot” that could reconfigure its own shape and move using its own internally generated power?
By developing a new computational model, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering have designed a synthetic polymer gel that can utilize internally generated chemical energy to undergo shape-shifting and self-sustained propulsion. Their research was published April 30th in the journal Scientific Reports, published by Nature.