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Robotics Technology

Phase-Changing Material Created For Robots 35

Posted by samzenpus
from the bend-it-shape-it dept.
rtoz writes In the movie Terminator 2, the shape-shifting T-1000 robot morphs into a liquid state to squeeze through tight spaces or to repair itself when harmed. Now a phase-changing material built from wax and foam, and capable of switching between hard and soft states, could allow even low-cost robots to perform the same feat. The material developed by MIT researchers could be used to build deformable surgical robots. The robots could move through the body to reach a particular point without damaging any of the organs or vessels along the way. The Robots built from this material could also be used in search-and-rescue operations to squeeze through rubble looking for survivors.

Phase-Changing Material Created For Robots

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 14, 2014 @03:41PM (#47450743)

    Paraffin wax is a known phase change material used in everything from washing machines, battery thermal management, automobiles, and thermostats. A project which has had moderate success with phase change materials is the Slocum Thermal glider which uses a PCM to harness thermal energy from the ocean.

    OpenGlider V0.1 used 4 silicone bladders full of paraffin wax for both attitude control and a high pressure buoyancy engine. Unfortunately there were some fundamental design problems with the energy storage system that forced the transition to a more traditional approach. IE: using electric motors in V0.2 & V0.3(currently in development).

    I think paraffin wax still has potential, but it's high specific heat translates to a large energy cost per cm^3 of volume change per dive cycle. My physics teacher discouraged my from pursuing PCMs because of the enthalpy losses, but without quantifying the losses it is difficult to do a cost benefit analysis on the design tradeoffs.

    The goal of the project is the design of a low cost underwater glider to increase access to oceanographic data collection.

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