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Flexible Robot Comes with Camouflage

August 16, 2012
Credit: S. Morin, Harvard University.

The remarkable flexibility and color-changing capabilities of the cuttlefish, an animal renowned for its ability to change shape and appearance to hide from predators, are one step closer to being replicated in robots.

A new flexible, color-shifting “soft robot” microfluidics networks – super small, interconnected fluid channels that can hold either gas or liquid –control color and pattern changes as well as movement, which create camouflage. The networks, embedded in sheets of silicon, are placed on the surface of soft robots. The research was done in the lab of George Whitesides at Harvard, and were inspired by nature, but published in Science.

“These strategies begin to imitate the functions, although not the anatomies, of color-changing animals,” the authors write in their paper.

Deep Dive

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Five poems about the mind

DREAM VENDING MACHINE I feed it coins and watch the spring coil back,the clunk of a vacuum-packed, foil-wrappeddream dropping into the tray. It dispenses all kinds of dreams—bad dreams, good dreams,short nightmares to stave off worse ones, recurring dreams with a teacake marshmallow center.Hardboiled caramel dreams to tuck in your cheek,a bag of orange dreams…

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Is everything in the world a little bit conscious?

The idea that consciousness is widespread is attractive to many for intellectual and, perhaps, also emotional
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Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

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