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Chameleon-like robot can change hue

Dye-filled microchannels help machine blend in, or stick out

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2:14pm, August 16, 2012

Go Go Gadget Camouflage!

A soft-bodied robot with silicone skin and colorful veins can blend into its surroundings — or stick out. Pumping dyes through tiny canals just underneath the synthetic skin helps disguise or reveal the rubbery robot, researchers report  in the Aug. 17 Science.

Layers of the color-changing silicone skin could be glued to robots for search and rescue missions, where tracking and locating machines is key. The dye-filled microchannels, which are about half as wide as a paper clip wire, could also help prosthetic devices look more natural by matching a limb’s coloring to a new summer tan, says study coauthor Stephen Morin of Harvard University. The technology may also end up concealing machines used in combat: The project was funded by the Pentagon’s DARPA and the U.S. Department of Energy.

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