Researchers at MIT believe that hydrogel may be the perfect answer to the question of how to develop robots that are sensitive enough to mimic human movements with the right level of fluidity, it has been reported.
According to a paper published by the scientists in Nature Communications, a journal, hydrogel can be used to create robots that are far better than the highly mechanical types of robots that have been developed so far.
The scientists, led by Xuanhe Zhao who is an associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT and Hyunwoo Yuk, a graduate student, say that the use of hydrogel to create robots may have amazing implications in the field of medical robotics.
‘The properties of hydrogel make it a perfect material for anyone to use to create the next generation of robots,’ the Scientists said.
Hydrogel is a material that is created by combining particular polymers with water. The material is usually very elastic and it is this property that the scientists are banking on to help creates very versatile robots.
To demonstrate their position, the scientists have created a special type of hydrogel robot that can perform highly sensitive tasks under water. The new robot has been shown to carefully capture a goldfish in water before releasing the fish without harming it in any way.
The scientists point out that the ability of the robot to carefully catch a goldfish and release it back it the water without harming it shows the potential of using hydrogel-based robots.
It has been further reported that the colourless nature of hydrogel makes it easy for scientists to create robots that can perform in various environments.
However, it has been reported that the process of creating hydrogel robots is often met with two sets of challenges: the tendency of the robots to fracture and the problem of having to use chemicals or magnets to make the structures stronger without compromising the appearance of the robots.
The MIT team reports that it used a complex set of 3D printing and laser-cutting processes to strengthen the structure of their robots without undermining their functionality.
It remains to be seen how the new creation will solve specific problems in the medical field. So far, the MIT scientists are upbeat about their new creation, pointing out that they are in talks with medical researchers to identify specific areas in the field that they can focus their research attention on.