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Scientists Develop Robot that Regulates Heat through Sweating

Scientists Develop Robot that Regulates Heat through Sweating

Saturday, 1 February, 2020 - 07:30
Bipedal humanoid robot "Atlas", primarily developed by the American robotics company Boston Dynamics, practices tai chi during a news conference at the University of Hong Kong October 17, 2013. Siu Chiu / Reuters
Cairo - Hazem Badr

One of the hurdles for making enduring, adaptable and agile robots is managing the robots' internal temperature. But, a research team from the US Cornell University has addressed this problem by creating a soft robot hand that can regulate its temperature through sweating.


According to the study published in the Science Robotics journal on Wednesday, the new robotic hand allows the high-powered robots to operate for long periods of time without overheating.


The so-called soft robots are made of compatible materials similar to those found in living creatures. They also have almost the same motility and adaptability. But despite these characteristics, they hold heat unlike the solid robots made from metals which dissipate heat quickly.


An internal cooling technology, such as a fan, may not be much help because it would take up space inside the robot and add weight. So, the researchers took inspiration from the natural cooling system that exists in mammals: sweating.


Sweating takes advantage of evaporated water loss to rapidly dissipate heat and can cool below the ambient environmental temperature. And this is the mechanism that the research team replicated.


The researchers created the necessary nanopolymer materials for sweating via a 3D-printing technique called multi-material stereolithography. They fabricated fingerlike actuators composed of two hydrogel materials that can retain water and respond to temperature.


The actuators react to temperatures above 30C by shrinking, which squeezes water up into a top layer of polyacrylamide that is perforated with micron-sized pores. These pores are sensitive to the same temperature range and automatically dilate to release the "sweat", and then close when the temperature drops below 30C.


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