A Robot That Melts and Reforms

Researchers have devised a robot that can liquefy and then reform—an characteristic inspired by sea cucumbers that rapidly change their stiffness. The shape-shifting invention can move between liquid and solid states by making clever use of materials. It’s composed of a metal with a low-melting point called gallium which researchers then embedded with magnets to control movement. Through the process of induction the robot melts into a liquid state and when it cools down it solidifies. Currently, the robot has been able to jump 20 times its body length, escape traps and remove a ball from a model of a human stomach. Researchers hope that this technology will be applicable to the biomedical field and assist in the repair or assemblage of hard-to-reach places. Learn more about the innovation at Smithsonian Magazine.

Image courtesy of Wang and Pan et al. under CC BY-SA