self camouflaging soft-robots by harvard university
researchers at harvard university have developed a walking soft robot for DARPA that has the ability to disguise itself within its
environment. the system consists of microfluidic networks which are used for camouflaging or displaying various color layers
contained in thin silicone sheets. a variety of heated or cooled dyes, chemiluminescent and fluorescent solutions and water can be
pumped through these channels to adjust temperature, causing the unit to alter and conceal its appearance. the demonstration is
based off organisms and systems in nature that use bioluminescence to communicate, achieving a similar glowing effect by pumping
these pigmented solutions through its layered channels.
the structure of the robot is connected to a series of tethers which attach to a control system where pressurized gases and liquids are
pumped into the device at a rate of 2.25 milliliters per minute, changing its color within 30 seconds. this operation reduces the size
and weight of such robots by leaving power sources and pumps off-board, requiring no power to sustain the luminous layers.
robot walking with its fluid canals filled in red
image © harvard university
demonstration of the filled colored layers
image © DARPA