A robotic invention, inspired by the remarkable ability of sea cucumbers to liquefy their bodies and escape from predators, is being developed by team people led engineer Chengfeng Pan from The Chinese University of Hong Kong. The ‘Terminator’ robot, as it has unofficially been named by social media, is made of a lightweight material, and has the ability to liquefy itself in order to pass through narrow openings, or escape from any confines.
How is the ‘Terminator’ Robot Related to Sea Cucumbers?
The concept of the Terminator robot was inspired by the ability of sea cucumbers to turn their bodies into a liquid state, allowing them to escape from predators in the wild. In order to achieve this, the robot is made of a material that is similar to that of a sea cucumber, allowing it to liquefy and pass through small spaces.
The robot is powered by a battery, and is able to move around in both its solid and liquid states. It is also capable of changing its shape and size depending on its environment.
How Does the Person-Shaped Robot Turn From Solid to Liquid?
The mechanics of the “Terminator” robot are based on Magnetoactive Liquid-Solid Phase Transitional Matter, which is a system of electrodes that generate an electric field, which causes the material of the robot to become liquid. This process can be reversed in order to reconstitute the robot, allowing it to move and take on different shapes. Essentially the robot is able to detect obstacles in its path, and avoid them by liquefying itself using the power magnetism. In the video below the person-shape robot liquefied itself to escape a jail cell.
The researchers hope that their invention could be used in areas such as search and rescue operations, where it could be used to investigate areas that are too dangerous for humans to enter. It could also be used for surveillance, as it can take pictures and videos as it moves through small spaces. The potential applications of the robot are vast.