Robotics is at an expansion phase and is not restricted to mechanical and electronics sector. Engineers have been designing such kind of robots that can serve several medical purposes, such as organ implants. Even, some researchers are successful in building robots that are capable enough to assist surgeons in conducting complicated surgeries. However, to handle the delicate human internal body organs, the medical robots need to be soft, devoid of cables, gears, and any motors.
Scientists at Elon University and North Carolina State University have not only designed such robots but also revealed a technique behind developing similar devices, which have unique applications.
The researchers made robots using a specific polymer grained with magnetic iron particles. Usually, the material remains in a rigid state, but when heated via any radiation energy, it becomes flexible. Under the magnetic field influence, the polymer-magnetic iron particles in the material push and pull different sides of the flexible robot, modifying its structure. After getting the desired shape, the researchers turned off the magnetic field and radiation source and let the robots to retain that shape. The robots’ structure can be re-modified by reheating it using the light or radiation source.
The researchers developed a computer simulator that would decide the number of magnetic particles to be added to the polymer for manufacturing bots. Moreover, the simulator will determine the magnetic field and light intensity to be used.
On a related note, researchers at the University of California have designed a new robotic soft contact lens that operates by simple eye gestures. The lens generates a zooming effect by consecutively blinking twice.
Eye gestures like blinking generate an electro-oculographic potential, capable enough to pass operating signals. Therefore, the researchers tried to change the focal length of the robotic lens using the impulses. The team specified that the soft lens they designed could zoom into the actual vision by 32%.