The mad scientists over at Harvard University (in a collaboration with DARPA) aren’t content with simple robotic Meshworms and artificial jellyfish. Now, they’ve created “soft robots” that can change their colors and patterns like cephalopods.
The robots are made of silicone layers, with molds used to create “micro-channels” underneath. These channels are then filled with colored liquids, allowing the soft robots to mimic their environment.
According to lead researcher George Whitesides, it’s all about exploring the myriad capabilities animals have gained through evolution.
“One function of our work on robotics is to give us, and others interested in this kind of question, systems that we can use to test ideas. Here the question might be: ‘How does a small crawling organism most efficiently disguise (or advertise) itself in leaves?’ These robots are test-beds for ideas about form and color and movement.”
Researchers can also pump hot or cold liquids into the robots to control how they appear thermally, or make them glow in the dark with fluorescent liquids.
And, bonus, these artificial cephalopods may be able to communicate with one another, given their ability to stand out in the environment. This will be useful for mounting an insurgence during the upcoming robot apocalypse.