Bio-inspired robots now capable of self-repair

What’s next on the horizon for robotics? A new material that’s capable of self-healing could set the stage for advancements we’ve never seen before.  While many natural organisms are capable of self-repair, for the first time, robots and other devices will be, as well. The new technology is seen as an exciting new frontier by some — but for others, this could just be another grim reminder that humanity’s days as the superior species could be numbered. Moreover, you might question if it is wise to create robots that are essentially smarter, stronger versions of ourselves.

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have developed a new “a self-healing material that spontaneously repairs itself under extreme mechanical damage.” They say their soft-matter composite material will boast a wide array of uses, which will reportedly include wearable computing, bio-inspired robotics and human-machine interaction.

New material could make robots invincible

The new material is made of liquid metal droplets that are suspended in a soft elastomer. When damaged, the droplets break apart and connect with neighboring droplets — rendering it capable of rerouting electrical signals with virtually no interruptions.

Even when the material has been cut, punctured or partially removed, the circuitry continues to function flawlessly. Because the material can continue to show high conductivity when stretched, experts say it will be ideal for power and data transmission.

Carmel Majidi, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and director of Carnegie Mellon’s Integrated Soft Materials Laboratory, spoke highly of the newly developed substance:

“Other research in soft electronics has resulted in materials that are elastic and deformable, but still vulnerable to mechanical damage that causes immediate electrical failure. The unprecedented level of functionality of our self-healing material can enable soft-matter electronics and machines to exhibit the extraordinary resilience of soft biological tissue and organisms,” Majidi explained.

“If we want to build machines that are more compatible with the human body and the natural environment, we have to start with new types of materials,” the professor added.

Why would we need to build machines that are “more compatible” with humans? Recall that in recent years, a number of experts have come forward to speak out against the threat posed by ever-advancing AI technology.

As it turns out, you really can be too smart for your own good — or at least, for the good of humanity.

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