This robot can melt and re-form its legs to change how it walks


(Q) #1

This robot can melt and re-form its legs to change how it walks

This robot can melt then re-form its legs to change how it walks

It can adapt to different walking styles by melting and then re-solidifying its structure.

How it works: The small, four-legged robot has a 3D-printed plastic structure with “shape morphing joints” that can be selectively melted and re-hardened to optimize its legs for different motions. A wire that heats up when a voltage is applied is wrapped around the joints and takes about 10 seconds to soften them. It can switch between a number of different leg positions to let it climb over, or lower itself beneath, obstacles.

Potential uses? The system could improve robots’ capabilities without adding cost, weight, or complexity, its creator Jianguo Zhao at Colorado State University, tells IEEE Spectrum. One day, something similar could be useful for robots that need to adapt to different or tasks, such as environmental monitoring.

You can watch a video of the robot here.

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Image credit:

  • Colorado State University