Soft robotics utilizes self-healing materials to make more resilient machines
Poke a hole in a human and something remarkable happens. First of all, you go to jail. But meanwhile, the wound heals itself, filling in the missing tissue and protecting itself from infection. Poke a hole in a robot, however, and prepare for a long night of repairs. The machines may be stronger than us, but they’re missing out on a vital superpower.
Until now. Researchers at Belgium’s Vrije Universiteit Brussel report this week in Science Robotics that they’ve developed a squishy, self-healing robot. Cut it open, apply heat, let it cool down again, and the wound heals itself.
While self-healing materials are nothing new, their application in so-called soft robotics — a relatively new kind of pliable machine that uses pneumatics or hydraulics to move — could be big. Think Terminator-style robots that automatically heal bullet wounds. OK, maybe don’t think of that.
Silicon Valley news: HP + Deloitte announce new partnership
HP is known is one of the world’s leaders in technology development, and Deloitte is also a world leader in digital transformation, the process of taking a traditional company into a modern mode of operation. HP’s CEO Dion Weisler described the partnership as one that “will change the world.”
The partnership is about delivering the right technology, along with the right information to the right person at the right time.
Focusing on the manufacturing industry, the two companies started working together 2 years ago and will now formally work together to have HP’s 3D printers placed in large-scale manufacturing environments and to speed the adoption of 3D printing in global enterprise manufacturing.
There is a currently massive USD$5B 3D printing market, however HP is more interested in the USD$12T (Trillion!) manufacturing market. Weisler said that 3M new jobs will be created in the next 5 years in this market.
It is difficult for any one company to take this on: companies often struggle to figure out exactly how they will make a transition from their traditional manufacturing processes to more efficient and effective modern counterparts, often including a 3D print component.
HP needed to work with a world leader in Digital Transformation for this reason – it’s not only about the hardware and software technology, but also a profound transformation of process, skills, and other aspects of manufacturing.
Robot eel patrols waters for pollutants
Switzerland’s Lake Geneva has attracted many notable figures to its shores over the centuries, from Mary Shelley to Freddie Mercury. But its newest illustrious resident, a pollutant-sniffing robot eel named Envirobot, is in a class all its own.
Swishing around the lake like an aquatic snake or eel, Envirobot is prototypical mobile water inspector that can deliver real-time temperature, conductivity, and contamination readings through its motorized segmented body, which measures 1.5 meters (about five feet) long.
The eelbot is part of the Nano-Tera Program, a Swiss governmental initiative intended to stimulate nanotechnological innovations, and involves researchers from École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, the University of Lausanne, the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Western Switzerland, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology. The prototype has already been deployed for several test swims.
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