What If Robots Weren't Metal?
Start writing a post

What If Robots Weren't Metal?

A new robot that could blur the lines between machine and animal

What If Robots Weren't Metal?
Cosmos Magazine

Yet another incredible new feat of technology has commenced the next step in a new age of robotics . Using what is called "soft "robotics scientists have created an autonomous robot called the "Octobot".

It was designed by Harvard Researchers using 3-D printing to create it. What makes this so interesting is the robot was made essentially by soft materials which means that no part of the robot is rigid at all. The electronics of the robot is almost entirely fluid or mushy as the Octobot is fueled by a series of chemical reactions that occur inside of it. In the Octobot hydrogen peroxide is turned into gas allowing it to move by inflating different arms of the robot. Instead of circuits and electric power working through wires it works like soft pipes inside the body. In layman terms: the robot is squishy.

So far, all the robot has been able to do is move its arms but this is a first step in something much larger and worth getting excited about. Firstly this new technology is important because robots made with new squishy materials can move and bend in ways normal machines can't and could be much better at any number of needs that require a way for tools to slide, wiggle and squirm through.

Already many can forecast ways in which the technology, if vastly advanced, could be used to go into other machines, like cars or phones to fix them without the need of manpower. Perhaps it could even be used in more humanitarian ways during serious natural catastrophe or warring situations as a search and rescue tool, slithering through the rubble where others can't get, in search of survivors.

The second, and more strange part of this, that makes it so interesting is how it is changing what it means for something to be considered a robot, a machine and making us reevaluate what a robot even is.

I have no real understanding of how things like computers work, all the circuit boards and technology could quite literally be magic and I just wouldn't know it. But it seems for most people, even those who do understand the technology, an immediate difference, even if an insignificant one, between robots and normal living things that think rather than just process like a computer comes from the idea that robots are simply metal contraptions running on batteries and we are something far more real and complex. But now these lines are being blurred ever so slightly. The Octobot has no battery, has no wires, has very little metal parts to it. It is different in every way from the average robot.

The gelatinous mechanism filled with fluids and tubes, fueled by chemical reactions, sounds just a tiny bit too much like the way the normal organism in nature works. Of course the Octobot is a long way from that since it is essentially made with rubbery type plastic, but this robot is a step in a strange and totally new direction for technology which is only the start. Already scientists are working to make these types of "soft" robots be able to do far more, such as having full movement and being able to react to their environments and adapt to new conditions.

There are 6 traits that qualify something as an organism (being a living creature). One is responding to the environment, another is ability to adapt. Hypothetically a soft robot could also be designed as a 3-D printer so it could print itself fulfilling the ability of organisms to reproduce and possibly also the ability to grow, which are two more of the 6 traits. If they could be made to be collect their own power sources whether solar or fluid then they could also potentially qualify for the fifth trait which is the ability to obtain and use energy.

What all this adds up to is the possibility that the line between man and machine isn't quite so stable and neat and is really growing incredibly thin. If such advancement keeps up there may come a day in the near future where those two lines converge. While artificial intelligence has grown in leaps and bounds it seems the artificial organism has started its rise as well and it may not be long before these robots aren't so artificial at all. And what then?

Of course all of this is an extreme extrapolation of a small new feat in science. But it is a feat that should not go unmissed as it may be the beginning of something far crazier that may one day effect how we live, the society we live in and what we define as being alive anyway.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

A Beginner's Wine Appreciation Course

While I most certainly do not know everything, I feel like I know more than the average 21-year-old about vino, so I wrote this beginner's wine appreciate course to help YOU navigate the wine world and drink like a pro.

White wine being poured into a glass

Keep Reading...Show less
Types of ice cream

Who doesn't love ice cream? People from all over the world enjoy the frozen dessert, but different countries have their own twists on the classic treat.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

100 Reasons to Choose Happiness

Happy Moments to Brighten Your Day!

A man with a white beard and mustache wearing a hat

As any other person on this planet, it sometimes can be hard to find the good in things. However, as I have always tried my hardest to find happiness in any and every moment and just generally always try to find the best in every situation, I have realized that your own happiness is much more important than people often think. Finding the good in any situation can help you to find happiness in some of the simplest and unexpected places.

Keep Reading...Show less

Remember The True Meaning of Christmas

“Where are you Christmas? Why can’t I find you?”

A painting of the virgin Mary, the baby Jesus, and the wise men

It’s everyone’s favorite time of year. Christmastime is a celebration, but have we forgotten what we are supposed to be celebrating? There is a reason the holiday is called Christmas. Not presentmas. Not Santamas. Not Swiftmas. Christmas.

boy standing in front of man wearing santa claus costume Photo by __ drz __ on Unsplash

What many people forget is that there is no Christmas without Christ. Not only is this a time to spend with your family and loved ones, it is a time to reflect on the blessings we have gotten from Jesus. After all, it is His birthday.

Keep Reading...Show less
Golden retriever sat on the sand with ocean in the background
Photo by Justin Aikin on Unsplash

Anyone who knows me knows how much I adore my dog. I am constantly talking about my love for her. I attribute many of my dog's amazing qualities to her breed. She is a purebred Golden Retriever, and because of this I am a self-proclaimed expert on why these are the best pets a family could have. Here are 11 reasons why Goldens are the undisputed best dog breed in the world.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments