Scientists have created a “liquid metal” Terminator-style robot. The human-shaped “droid” can flow through the bars of a cage before rebuilding itself – like the rogue cop cyborg in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator 2. But the team behind it say their inspiration was not the killer bot who fought Arnie’s good Terminator – catchphrase “I’ll be back” – but squishy sea cucumbers.
Dr. Chengfeng Pan, from The Chinese University of Hong Kong, said: “Giving robots the ability to switch between liquid and solid states endows them with more functionality.” His team also used the machines to remove an object from a model stomach and deliver drugs to the same organ. As well as shapeshifting, the engineers say their robots are magnetic and can conduct electricity.
Dr. Pan’s team made the new material – a “magnetoactive solid-liquid phase transitional machine” – by embedding magnetic particles in gallium, a metal with a very low melting point of 29.8C. Engineers tested the material’s mobility and strength in a variety of scenarios.
With the aid of a magnetic field, the robots jumped over moats, climbed walls, and even split in half to move other objects around more efficiently. The news comes after word that NASA has agreed to find a new space plane designed to find alien life.
Creator of the concept, Planet Enterprises’ Quinn Morley, said: “This Tital Flyer concept aims to ‘drink’ in methane condensation and organic material through a permeable section of the leading edge wing skin.
“Capillary features on the inside of the wing will collect this ingested material and combine it into a continuous fluid stream, which can then be routed to science instruments inside the flyer. (SOURCE)