Octopus-Inspired Rubber Skin Could Be The Key To Shape-Shifting Robots
Octopuses are amazing creatures. They’re not only smart, they are survivors, able to camouflage themselves by changing colors and changing the texture of their skin to mimic the environment. For all of our advancement, humans can’t do that. Well, one day robots will be able to. That’s because a group of scientists from Cornell University in New York and the Marine Biological Laboratory in Massachusetts want to give soft robots the same ability. That’s why they created an artificial elastic skin that can morph into different shapes and textures. That’s right, one day robots will camouflage themselves and seal our doom.
This material is based on the muscle underneath octopus skin that controls the animal’s dermal papillae. Those are the protrusions in the skin that pop up when it wants to blend into its surroundings. It has several layers, including a fiber mesh and the rubber skin. All you have to do is pump air into the structure, and some parts of the skin expand, while others get held back by the mesh to form various shapes, like rocks and plants for instance. Pretty ingenious.
It is a long way from perfection,but one day it could have the ability to form multiple shapes at once. One day, the material could be used to create soft robots with the ability to camouflage themselves.It also has applications in immersive VR experiences. Think about coming across a strange alien from another planet and being able to touch its skin. It will happen one day soon.