Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Soft robots that adapt to injury and self-heal

16 January 2023

Bust a Move

Entering stage-left like a disco dancer with a score to settle, this tiny ‘soft robot’ makes a determined effort to cross the floor. All the more impressive as people keep sticking knives into its limbs. This quadruped robot is made from a self-healing material – an elastomer that repairs after the cuts, combined with wavy light sensors capable of detecting stress and damage then feeding the information back to a controlling computer. In this particular model, after every cut the robot adjusts its movement – it’s gait – to compensate for its injuries. Researchers believe this new generation of flexible electronics gains a form of awareness or 'damage intelligence' – they’re not only resilient to damage but can adapt to it. Similar robots may be suited to working inside or alongside the body, monitoring stresses and strains on and off the dance floor.

Written by John Ankers

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