The discovery could lead to Self-Propelled Robots – using only the energy flow in their environment

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Army-funded researchers are discovering how self-propelled materials are made so that materials can be moved by motor or hand. Credit: Yongjin Kim, UMass Amherst

Army-funded researchers found how to make self-propelled materials that could move materials without a motor or hand.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst found how materials that hold and reset themselves are made solely based on the energy flow in the environment. This study was published in Materials of nature and funded by the U.S. military, it could allow future military robots to move from their energy.

“This work is part of a greater multidisciplinary effort to understand the biological impulse systems and engineers that will lay the foundations for scalable methods for mechanical action and the creation of structures and materials for energy storage,” said Dr. Ralph Anthenien. chief, the Army Research Office, an element of the U.S. Army’s Command to Develop Combat Skills, now known as DEVCOM, the Army Research Laboratory. “The work will have many applications in the future for Army and DOD action and motivation systems.”

The researchers found that physics was drying a strip of gel in an experiment in the world. The researchers found that when the gel strip lost its internal fluid due to the evaporation of long, long elastic bands, the list shifted. Most of the movements were slow, but they kept accelerating again and again.

Materials that restore and restore themselves

Scientists are discovering how to make materials that can reset and reset themselves, based solely on the energy flow in their environment. This research will enable future military robots capable of moving their energy. Credit: Yongjin Kim, UMass Amherst

These faster movements were common instabilities that did not occur as the liquid evaporated. Additional research revealed that the shape of the material mattered and that the lists could reset themselves to track their movements.

“Many plants and animals, especially small ones, use special parts that act as springs and covers to help them move very fast, much faster than animals with only muscles,” said Dr. Al Crosby, professor of polymer science and engineering at UMass University of Natural Sciences. Amherst. “They’re like plants Venus fly traps are good examples of this type of movement, as well as grasshoppers and trap-jawed ants in the animal world. “

Snap instabilities are a way for nature to combine a spring and a hamper and are increasingly used in small robots and other devices and to create quick movements in toys like rubber poppers.

“However, most of these restraining devices require a motor or a human hand to continue moving,” Crosby said. “With this finding, there may be several applications that do not require a battery or motor to power the movement.”

Self-propelled robots

Scientists are discovering that future military robots may only be able to move their energy. Credit: Yongjim Kim, UMass Amherst

After learning the basic physics from the drying strips, the team experimented with different shapes to find ways to react in the expected ways, and this would move again and again without restoring the motors or hands. They also showed that the team’s redesigned lists could do the job, such as climbing a set of stairs on their own.

“These lessons demonstrate how materials can create strong motion through their interactions with their environment, such as evaporation, and are important for designing new robots, especially in small sizes, as it is difficult to have motors, batteries, or other energy sources,” Crosby said.

The research team is coordinating with the DEVCOM Army Research Laboratory to transfer and transfer this knowledge to future Army systems.

Reference: Yongjin Kim, Jay van den Berg, and Alfred J. Crosby, February 1, 2021, “Adhesion and Skipping of Autonomous Polymer Gels.” Materials of nature.
DOI: 10.1038 / s41563-020-00909-w

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