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Video: Silicone Robot Mimics Surroundings
9/5/2012

Low-cost silicone robots can walk, change color to match their surroundings, and light up in the dark, promising help for first responders and the military.   (Source: DARPA)
Low-cost silicone robots can walk, change color to match their surroundings, and light up in the dark, promising help for first responders and the military.
(Source: DARPA)

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Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Color Changing
Ann R. Thryft   11/5/2012 12:23:38 PM
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gsmith, we'll definitely do a follow-up if the research team reports their next milestones. Since it's a DARPA project, though, we might not get all the answers we'd like.

gsmith120
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Re: Color Changing
gsmith120   11/4/2012 3:06:48 PM
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Ann, I hope you have a follow-up story on this one.  I would be very interested in knowing the answers to the unanswered questions. 

gsmith120
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Re: Color Changing
gsmith120   11/4/2012 3:05:32 PM
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Jack you took the words out of my mouth.  I had the same question about color changing.  I wonder how long it takes the robot to make a color change and what are some of the limitations. 

Jack Rupert, PE
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Re: Color Changing
Jack Rupert, PE   9/17/2012 2:01:05 PM
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Good point, Ann.  At first I thought the robot was calling for the chemicals remotely, just because too much was needed for the package.  But after viewing the video again, you're right. It does look like they might be pumped due to human intervention.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Color Changing
Ann R. Thryft   9/10/2012 12:10:56 PM
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Jack, how those colors are determined wasn't specified, but at this point I'm reasonably certain the robot is not doing the choosing. I have several unanswered questions about how the robot will work in the next rev, which is supposed to be untethered. Once of them is: where will the multiple fluids used for color changes come from? Will it be pre-resident in different layers? And what about the pumping action? In the video, the pumping, at least, appears to be done by the operator in real time.

Jack Rupert, PE
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Color Changing
Jack Rupert, PE   9/7/2012 2:28:50 PM
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Ann, maybe I missed it, but do you know how the color is determined?  Is this a case where the human operator decides how the robot will blend in to its surrounding and then give a command through the various chemical reactions, or does the unit decide for itself what to do?

Rob Spiegel
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Re: another example of biomimicry
Rob Spiegel   9/7/2012 12:37:51 PM
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Ann, that match-up with a flexible battery could be the answer to allow the robot to crawl through small spaces without a tether. Yet another robot that mimics creepy crawly nature.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: another example of biomimicry
Ann R. Thryft   9/6/2012 5:08:40 PM
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Rob, the researchers did say that the next step is to develop this robot so it works without a tether. Whether this guy can take advantage of that flexible battery, who knows, but that sounds like a great idea.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: another example of biomimicry
Rob Spiegel   9/6/2012 2:23:52 PM
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Even in the video you posted, Ann, you can see that this robot would be able to squeeze through a small area. It has a gummy worm aspect of flexibility. If they can move beyond a tether -- say, with the flexibile battery you wrote about last week -- http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=249722 -- this could go through all sorts of small spaces.

 

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: another example of biomimicry
Ann R. Thryft   9/6/2012 12:23:49 PM
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Rob, I think you nailed that--surveillance is supposed to be one of the major apps this robot would be good for. I can see it taking many different forms, too. Hope they get a better video for the next rev.

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