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