It sounds like something out of a science fiction universe, but it’s very real. Currently in the laboratory stage, a team of researchers from the Soochow University of Taiwan has created a robot liquid. One that can be completely autonomously shaped, divided and rebuilt.
This liquid robot is created from tiny droplets of magnetic matter. Its full size without decomposing does not exceed one centimeter. Specifically, it is created with magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles. They were then suspended in oil. Which ultimately turns that ferrofluid into a soft compound.
How does this liquid robot work?
The composition described above allows this small device change your structure to go to a specific indicated point. You can get around almost any obstacle that comes your way. Or at least that is the intention of the research team that did it.
To control this movement, the research team used the composition of the liquid robot itself. Spherical magnets maintain the power of this little invention. The gadgets also allow him to move and shapeshift when the situation calls for it.
As seen in a video published by Science, this little liquid robot divides like a swarm and then merges. For example, your skills are tested in a mazeall possible paths are analyzed and then connected.
In what scenarios can this little robot be used
The possibilities of this liquid robot are enormous, one of them is related to the study of soft robots, but the research team has two options. On the one hand, in laboratory experiments to control and produce chemical reactions in clinical trials. Specially in virus studies or microscopic elements.
However, the research team further emphasized their medical use. A liquid robot could be a solution for the local administration of drugs to humans. The machine can contain patient medication that can be directed to the injection site when swallowed.
Its small size and its ability to adapt to the required shape and overcome obstacles would allow it to circulate through the arteries or capillaries of the human body. And then reach specific organs or tissues.
“Another use may be to remove blood clots in the brain that cause strokes, although creating a strong enough magnetic field to precisely move the robot inside the brain would be a challenge,” he says. Bradley Nelsonof the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.
However, the research team still has some important questions to address. The small size of the liquid robot, in addition to scalability and price, makes it difficult to transport the necessary doses of the drug to the patient.
Also, the magnetic system required to maintain remote control of the machine must be powerful enough to penetrate the tissue of the human body.
Venom, another example of a soft robot
This robot is all about mass that can also be controlled remotely via a magnetic field. The idea is that this robot can get into tight places, even inside the human body, to collect items that were swallowed by mistake, or to extract particles from organs and exit without causing any damage.
The robot was made by researchers from the Chinese University From Hong Kong, who mixed strong neodymium magnets with borax, a common detergent. An encapsulated silicon compound ensures that the substance is non-toxic to the human body.
Demonstrations have shown how he managed to recover a battery in a fake stomach, and you can see how it can be manipulated in several different ways. Next, the video: