Scientists have created a robot that can change from solid to liquid, much like the liquid metal robot in the second part of the Terminator movie franchise. Actually, one of the examples of demonstrating the capabilities of a liquid robot seems to be borrowed from a movie: a Lego man created from a new material leaves the cage, seeping through a hole in it.
Soft robots are not new to science and industry, but they have a minus: the material is very malleable, as a result, such robots are inferior in speed, movement accuracy and strength to conventional solid ones. But an international team of engineers has developed a gallium-based material that, if not revolutionary, could bring the performance of soft robots closer to conventional ones.
Scientists added tiny magnetized microparticles to gallium, the material was called “magnetically active phase transition matter.” It combines mechanical strength, structure flexibility and high (for soft robots) movement speed. Finally, excellent “morphological adaptability in the liquid phase” is noted. This means that in a liquid state, the robot can split into parts, and then merge again, change shape as you like. The shape and movements of the device are controlled by a magnetic field.
Using this technique, the researchers were able to get the robots to solder chains, form a universal screw, overcome obstacle courses, and extract objects from a dummy stomach. Actually, it is biomedicine that the developers see as the main scope of the liquid metal robot. But not in its current state, but in subsequent versions that will be ready for commercial use.