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Self-healing robot detects when it’s been harmed and mends itself

Self-healing robot detects when it’s been harmed and mends itself

Researchers created a small starfish-shaped soft robot that withstands damage.
After they cut one of its legs it detected the damage and self-healed puncture.

Sci-fi aficionados would recognize the Terminator as a relentless killing machine due to its unparalleled capacity for self-healing after suffering damage.

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Cornell University engineers in New York are now making great strides towards replicating this incredible self-healing capability.

The brains behind this project have crafted a robot that is incredibly astute — it can recognize when and where damage has been done to itself, then promptly repair the harm without assistance.

Resembling a miniature four-legged starfish, this supple robot takes advantage of light to identify cuts created on its surface.

When the researchers inflicted a wound on one of its legs, the robot shockingly identified and sealed up the laceration autonomously.

‘Our lab is always trying to make robots more enduring and agile, so they operate longer with more capabilities,’ said Professor Rob Shepherd at Cornell University. 

‘If you make robots operate for a long time, they’re going to accumulate damage. And so how can we allow them to repair or deal with that damage?’

While not indestructible, Shepherd said the new starfish robot – which is only around five inches long – has similar properties to human flesh. 

‘You don’t heal well from burning, or from things with acid or heat, because that will change the chemical properties,’ he said.

‘But we can do a good job of healing from cuts.’ 

A marvel of modern robotics, the X-shaped robot travels smoothly through its environment with the help of compressed air that is pumped into its body. It moves like a starfish, making it truly unique to behold!

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