Scientists have developed a robotic slime to navigate small spaces and pick up objects. In the future, magnetic slime could be applied to the human body.
Chinese scientists at the University of Hong Kong have developed a mobile magnetic slime that can enclose small objects, heal itself and deform very strongly. This allows the robot slime to move through tight spaces.
The new research was published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials. There it is said that the magnetic miniature soft-bodied robot enables non-invasive access to tight spaces. This would make the robot slime an ideal solution for minimally invasive surgical procedures and targeted drug delivery.
A Slime Robot Is A Mixture Of A Cleaning Agent And A Magnet
Professor Li Zhang from the University of Hong Kong co-developed the robot slime. The project is still at the essential research stage, and the scientist told The Guardian.
The slime is made from a polymer called “polyvinyl alcohol borax,” commonly used in cleaning products. This is mixed with neodymium magnetic particles.
According to Zhang, the composition is similar to mixing water with cornstarch. A non-Newtonian liquid is formed, the consistency of which changes under the influence of force.
Robotic Slime Is Designed To Crawl Through The Human Body
Scientists from China can imagine using the robot mucus in the human digestive system. With a diameter of only 1.5 mm, the tiny robot can manoeuvre through complex environments and narrow channels.
Thanks to its functions, the small slime robot, which resembles a pile of dung, could, for example, grab and transport harmful objects. In addition, the slime can monitor human movements and repair circuits.
Also Read: Robotics: The Robot In Virtual Reality
Slime Is The Softbots’ New Hope
According to Chinese scientists, soft robots that have been developed so far have their limits. They are only conditionally deformable and cannot move through severely restricted environments. In contrast, other, more fluid soft robots are too unstable and limited in their use.
The new robot slime should remedy that. According to the developers, it has both the adaptability of elastomer-based robots and the reconfigurable significant deformation capabilities of liquid-based robots.
Disadvantage: Robot Slime Is Poisonous
There are a few risks. However, Zhang told The Guardian. The magnetic particles in the slime are poisonous. The researchers, therefore, covered the soft robot with a layer of silicon dioxide to form a hypothetical protective layer.
According to Zhang, the slime’s safety depends heavily on how long a patient keeps the robot in their body. In addition, the robot mass originally had a rather unsightly brown-black group. To counteract this, scientists may want to use pigments and dyes in the future.
So far, the research team from the University of Hong Kong has no concrete plans for the robot slime. The primary research should initially serve to understand the material properties of the muck. There it is said that the magnetic miniature soft-bodied robot enables non-invasive access to tight spaces. This would make the robot slime an ideal solution for minimally invasive surgical procedures and targeted drug delivery. The new robot slime should remedy that. According to the developers, it has both the adaptability of elastomer-based robots and the reconfigurable significant deformation capabilities of liquid-based robots.