Shapeshifting Soft Robot Melt T-1000 Terminator
Photo credit: Wang and Pan et al.
T-1000 from Terminator 2: Judgement Day, played by Robert Patrick, is one of the most iconic movie villains ever for his shapeshifting capabilities. Researchers have now created a shapeshifting soft robot that can do the same, sort of. Inspired by the sea cucumber, this robot makes use of a new material called magnetoactive solid-liquid phase transitional machine, or a composite of magnetic particles and a metal with a low melting point, such as gallium.

Gallium becomes a liquid at approximately 29.8 °C (86 °F), or researchers could use Galinstan, a gallium–indium–tin mixture, which melts at -19 °C (-2.2 °F). Using this material enabled the soft robot to switch phases through inducting heating when exposed to an alternating magnetic field. In one of their demonstrations, the robot split into halves, escaped an enclosure, and then reformed. Practical uses include being used as a universal screw for hard-to-access spaces and snatching impossible to reach objects out of the human body.

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Shapeshifting Soft Robot Melt T-1000 Terminator

We demonstrate the unique capabilities of MPTMs by showing their dynamic shape reconfigurability by realizing smart soldering machines and universal screws for smart assembly and machines for foreign body removal and drug delivery in a model stomach,” said the researchers.

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