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Self-Healing Robots

August 17, 2017

Engineers have designed soft robots that can heal themselves from damage.

Transcript

SoftRobot

(Terryn, et al., Science Robotics, 2017)

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Robot, heal thyself. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Robots made out of soft, flexible materials are ideal for handling fruits and vegetables, assisting in surgery, and safely interacting with people. But they’re also prone to damage from sharp objects and other hazards. Now, engineers write in the journal Science Robotics that they’ve created soft robots that can heal their own wounds. Vrije University of Brussels graduate student Seppe Terryn says they’re made from a network of flexible polymers that repair themselves with heat.

SEPPE TERRYN (Vrije Universty of Brussels):

It’s a little bit like a 3D spiderweb. When heated, the microscopic mobility of the polymers is increased, and it can slowly flow into a cut and seal it. And this allows the robots to hurt themselves but heal afterwards.

HIRSHON:

Terryn says the next step is build in sensors so the robots know when they’ve been damaged. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard