Robotic teams everywhere are working on soft robots, because many situations need a gentle touch. Soft robots can squish into tight locations, pick up fragile objects without breaking them and more. However soft robots are obviously more easily damaged as well. Say a soft robot encounters something with sharp edges. Well, that soft material is damaged and basically the equivalent of a human with an open wound. To solve this, a team of researchers from Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium have developed a way to create soft machines that can heal themselves. The method is simple. They just use heat.
In the video below, a robotic hand has artificial muscle that has self-healing properties. The hand gets stabbed and then proceeds to repair itself. The material is made of jelly-like rubbery polymers with many strands that reorganize and lock together when heat is introduced.
This basically means that they can now deploy more soft robots in factories and that the robots will have a longer lifespan and be more productive. Sadly for all of us, this also brings us one step closer to Terminator robots that can heal themselves after you shoot a hole in their chest. It’s a good news bad news kind of situation.