Crawling bot glows, camouflages itself with dye

Depending on the fluids and gases it’s pumped with, the robot can glow or camouflage itself.

(Credit:
DARPA)

In addition to slithering, crawling, and flying just about anywhere, what if robots could camouflage themselves? This tentacled prototype can be made to look like — or stand out from — its background with a simple injection of dyes.

Developed by engineers at Harvard University’s Whitesides Research Group, the “soft machine” silicone quadruped crawls along on pressurized gases fed through an umbilical cord.

Users can send different dyes through channels in the robot’s body, allowing it to blend in or stand out in startling fashion, such as glowing in the dark. Color changes take about 30 seconds, but don’t require further power to sustain the disguise.

The research is published in the journal Science, where the authors describe the microfluidic channels in the bot that allow it to change its color, pattern, surface temperature, and even luminescence.

The research is part of DARPA’s Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) program, which seeks robots to “assist in the execution of military operations far more effectively across a far greater range of missions” than current machin… [Read more]

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