Are Electronics-Free Robots the Future?

When I think of robots, I think of tangled wires and brushed metal. So, could these new gel bots be the future of robotics?

They’re limited to “inchworming,” so they’re not very mobile, or otherwise comparable to what we know electromechanical robots can do. The main advantage of the chemical robots is that they do not need an electrical source of power. The robots gain energy through chemical reactions with their environment.

This technology is still very new, so don’t count out an army of advanced chemical polymer gel bots busting down your door some time in the future.

This Gel bot "inchworms"

This Gel bot inchworms

Researchers at the Shuji Hashimoto Laboratory in Tokyo, Japan have taken the first steps towards creating an electronics-free robot. They have developed a chemical gel capable of autonomous movements without any electrical inputs. Their robot combines polymers that change their size based on the chemical environment. The surrounding gel and the tension built into it amplify this reaction, rendering the robot capable of walking by clenching then expanding its bridge-like form.

[Chemical Robotics Group]

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