With the constant development of technology and AI, the skills and abilities of robots are increasing and expanding every day. First, they could walk, then they could write essays and paint nails. This latest advance in robotic abilities offers something many have not thought of before - a Terminator 2-style robot that can switch between solid and liquid form according to space restrictions. Here's everything we know so far about this slightly creepy, real-life T-1000...
The study, published on January 25, 2023, in the Matter journal, was conducted by a team of mechanical engineers at Carnegie Mellon University. To create this state-changing robot, the team embedded tiny chunks of magnetic neodymium, boron, and iron (NdFeB) into the liquid metal, giving it time to solidify. Magnets were used to cue the melting process, and the robot was seen immediately transforming into a shapeless puddle to easily navigate through the cage bars. Once it had traveled through to the other side, it began to automatically solidify once again. Magnetic induction was used to heat the robot as the magnets triggered an electric current inside the bot. In response, the low-boiling point liquid will be melted, and the internal magnetic elements will be pulled in the direction of the moving magnet.
"The magnetic particles here have two roles," explained mechanical engineer and the study's senior author Carmel Majidi. "One is that they make the material responsive to an alternating magnetic field, so you can, through induction, heat up the material and cause the phase change. But the magnetic particles also give the robots mobility and the ability to move in response to the magnetic field."
In the article, the scientists credited sea cucumbers as their inspiration behind the project. This marine animal can turn itself into a soft or hard state according to its needs or threat, so examining its qualities provided vital insights. The most important question pertains to the applicability of this state-shifting robot. As noted in the report and as seen in their experimental operations, the researchers are "pushing this material system in more practical ways to solve some very specific medical and engineering problems. "Whether it's removing a foreign object from a human stomach or using it to enter tough-to-reach mechanical spots, the opportunities are endless!