Robotics, Smart Materials, and their Future Impact for Humans

A “robot” is often defined as a machine that can carry out a complex series of actions automatically, especially one programmable by a computer. This is a definition that encompasses a large proportion of conventional robots of the kind you see in science-fiction films. However, there is no need for a robot to be humanoid, to have limbs, to walk, or to talk. Rather, we can have a much wider interpretation of what a robot is?

The boundaries between smart materials, artificial intelligence, embodiment, biology, and robotics are blurring. This is how robotics will really affect humans over the next twenty to forty years. From robots that can monitor and repair the natural environment to Nano robots to track and kill cancer, and from robots that will lead the way to planetary colonization to robot companions to keep us from loneliness in old age. There is no part of our society or life that will not be affected by future robotics.

Instead of a conventional robot which can be decomposed into mechanical, electrical, and computational domains, we can think of a robot in terms of its biological counterpart and having three core components: a body, a brain, and a stomach. The benefit of this artificial organism paradigm is that we are encouraged to exploit, and go beyond, all the characteristics of biological organisms. And the realization of this goal is only achievable by concerted research in the areas of smart materials, synthetic biology, artificial intelligence, and adaptation.

A smart material is one that exhibits some observable effect in one domain when stimulated through another domain. These cover all domains including mechanical, electrical, chemical, optical, thermal, and so on. Smart materials can add new capabilities to robotics, and especially artificial organisms. You need a robot that can track chemicals? You can use a smart material that changes electrical properties when exposed to the chemical. You need a robotic device that can be implanted in a person but will degrade to nothing when it has done its job of work? You can use biodegradable, biocompatible, and selectively dissolvable polymers. Smart materials largely cover the same set of physical properties (stiffness, elasticity, viscosity) as biological tissue and state-of-the-art soft robotic technologies that have the potential to deliver this capability. Smart materials can be divided into three groups: hydraulic and pneumatic soft systems; smart actuator and sensor materials; and stiffness changing materials.

Know more about such at: http://bit.ly/BrochureSmartMaterials

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