Technology 2 min read

New Development: Robot With Shape Morphing Joints Created

In a huge step towards bionic robots, researchers have created a robot that can morph to its environment. | Ociacia /

In a huge step towards bionic robots, researchers have created a robot that can morph to its environment. | Ociacia /

Naturally, bones are a pretty integral part of all animals, including humans. Now that robots are becoming more anthropomorphic, they’re growing bones of their own.

Animals, in general, are stuck with the skeletal structure they’re born with. Robots, however, don’t have to worry about that.

With this skeletal freedom, a machine can re-optimize itself any way it wants for movement. Now, a roboticist at the Colorado State University created a robot that does just that.

The small walking robot can melt and solidify its bones for optimized movement, thereby redesigning its skeleton to suit its current challenge.

How Does The Robot Melt its Bones?

The robot’s unique adaptation ability is made possible by a set of “Shape Morphing Joints (SMJ).”

According to the publication in the journal IEEE Robotics & Automation Letters, each of the joints was initially firm. However, when electricity passes through the rigid structure, it melts and becomes temporarily pliable.

Once the researchers stop the electricity flow, the joint becomes rigid again.

In the video, you’ll see how the robot used the Shape Morphing Joints to slide below an obstacle it would otherwise hit.

Possible Applications Of the SMJ

The research can serve as a framework for building robots capable of more than one type of movement. That means machines that can walk, run, swim and fly at will.

“Those robots can be used for a wide range of applications including environmental monitoring, military surveillance, as well as search and rescue in disaster areas,” researcher Jianguo Zhao told IEEE Spectrum.

But that, for now, is in the distant future.

Read More: Meet Ai-Da: The World’s First Ultra-Realistic Robot Artist

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Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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