Researchers develop a novel Method that could Propel the Autonomous Vehicle Market Forward as it Helps Material Morph into Different Forms

Posted On April 16, 2022     

A small autonomous vehicle that can drive across the land, come to a halt, then fold into a quadcopter is nothing short of a dream. Another idea is that rotors begin to spin, and then the car takes off. A novel method might bring this dream closer to reality. A team has presented a changing form at the material level without the need for motors or pulleys. The new development could help boom the Autonomous Vehicles Market as it has the ability to morph materials and fix them into position using rubber, metal, and temperature.

Researchers sought material that could do three things in the initial stage of the project. It should be able to change shape, keep that shape, and then return to its original configuration over and over again. One of the difficulties was coming up with a material that was soft enough to change shape significantly but stiff enough to construct adaptive machines that could do a variety of tasks.

The team used kirigami, a Japanese art form that involves cutting forms out of paper, to construct a morphable framework. (This is in contrast to origami, which involves folding.) The team was able to develop a material architecture of a repeating geometric pattern by observing the strength of those kirigami patterns in rubbers and composites.

The researchers discovered that their kirigami-inspired composite design could form a variety of complicated shapes, including cylinders, balls, and the bumpy shape of a pepper's bottom. It's also possible to modify one profile quickly. The body changed and cemented into place in less than a tenth of a second after impact with a ball. Furthermore, if the material were to break, it could be repaired several times by melting and reconstructing it.

This technology's uses are just getting started. The researchers produced a working drone that automatically morphs from ground to air vehicle by integrating this material with onboard power, control, and motors. The researchers also built a miniature deployable submarine that uses material morphing and returning to gather objects from an aquarium by scraping the sub's belly along the bottom.

Researchers are enthusiastic about the possibilities for versatile robotics that this material offers. These composites are robust enough to withstand the forces generated by motors or propulsion systems. Still, they can shape morph easily, allowing machines to adapt to their surroundings.

In the future, researchers see morphing composites playing a role in the emerging field of soft robotics. They can be used to create machines that can perform a variety of tasks self-heal after being damaged to increase resilience and inspire new ideas in human-machine interfaces and wearable devices.

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