Posted in | News | Biomimetic Robotics

New Structural Color Soft Robot to Interact with Environment

A new structural color soft robot that can move and change color has been designed by researchers headed by Dr Du Xuemin from the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Chameleon-inspired structural-color soft actuators interact with the environment. (Image credit: Dr Du Xuemin)

The ability of the chameleon to change color, by readily adjusting a lattice of light-reflecting nanocrystals in its upper layer of skin cells—the iridophores—to adapt to the changing environment, inspired the development of the structural color soft robot that can sense the changing environment, hence showing clear color changes and programmable movement.

This potential could open doors for the development in the interaction between robot and environment, for example, response, sensing, and communication.

Due to its asymmetric friction design and periodic structure, which enable quick color change and programmable shape change (within just 1 second), the worm-like structural robot can move ahead straight and rhythmically, showing strong color change when there is a change in the environment.

These exceptional properties were used to design a rotating pinwheel and a closing/blooming flower presenting intense color changes. These smart actuations could have significant repercussions in communication, sensing, and disguise for soft robotics.

The study results have been reported in an article titled “Chameleon-inspired structural color actuators” published in the most recent issue of Matter.”


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