Researchers build robot fingers that can sweat

  • Researchers build robot fingers that can sweat

Researchers build robot fingers that can sweat

Therefore, they need some kind of cooling system if they are going to operate for long periods without overheating and suffering damage.

Inspired by how mammals sweat, the team of Cornell researchers partnered with the lab of Emmanuel Giannelis, the Walter R. Read Professor of Engineering, the create nanopolymer materials for sweating.

"The ability to perspire is one of the most remarkable features of humans", said co-lead author T.J. Wallin, M.S. '16, Ph.D. The team of scientists (from Cornell University, Facebook Reality Labs, and Istituto Italiano di Technologia) aimed to replicate this effect with a "soft" robot to see whether they could create the same effect, helping the bot run efficiently for longer. An internal cooling technology, for example, a fan, may not be a lot of help since it would occupy space inside the robot and add weight.

The scientists, from Cornell University in NY, established the robot hand from hydraulically managed "fingerlike actuators" that have little openings which can produce water.

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Interestingly, the fingers could even change the temperature of the objects they held; after retrieving a can from a warm water bath, the sweating reaction caused the metal to cool much faster than it would otherwise.

Wallin included: "So as is often the case, biology provided an excellent guide for us as engineers". These actuators were printed from a combination of two hydrogel materials, which are likened to "smart sponges" due to their ability to retain water and react to temperature changes. The base layer, made of poly-N-isopropylacrylamide, reacts to temperatures above 30 C (86 F) by shrinking, which squeezes water up into a top layer of polyacrylamide that is perforated with micron-sized pores. At temperatures warmer than that, however, the expanding resin opened the pores up to let water in each finger sweat out, aided at even higher temperatures by the contracting resin. These pores are sensitive to a similar temperature extend and automatically enlarge to release the "sweat", at that point close when the temperature dips under 30 C. Used in combination with a fan, the robotic actuators cooled down six times faster. '18 said, "The best part of this synthetic strategy is that the thermal regulatory performance is based in the material itself". The evaporation is so efficient that the surface temperature of the actuator can drop by 21°C in just 30 seconds.

However, it will be a while before they start appearing in mainstream technology, as the team haven't been able to find a way to replenish water lost during operation.