Saturday, August 18, 2012
New DARPA soft robot concept moves, camouflages itself like an octopus
We've seen robots that mimic animals in order to perform life-saving acts, but an emerging trend in autonomous creations are robots that actually look organic. Case in point: This new robot being developed for the Defense Advanced Project Research Agency (DARPA). Made of soft silicon, it crawls along like a squishy undersea creature and can fill with colored pigment to blend in with its environment.
Created by researchers at Harvard University, the robot uses air — supplied by an external mechanism at the moment — to inflate and deflate its appendages, causing it to walk. A sensor on its underside it capable of detecting the color of its surroundings, and this data can be used to determine a mix of pigments that are pumped into its skin through tubes in order to change its coloring to match.
The goal of designs such as this is ultimately to produce robots that can be used for missions such as infiltration behind enemies lines. The ability to change their shape, color, and even temperature — for evading thermal scans — will make them much harder to detect. If the research pans out, the military may soon be putting its enemies between a robo-rock and a hard place with the help of real-world Transformers.