one of the most amazing things about the human body is its capacity to heal itself, restoring and optimizing its health. researches at the vrije universiteit brussel have now endowed robots with this property, as shown in their study ‘self-healing soft pneumatic robots’, published in science robotics. made out almost entirely of flexible, soft material, these machines are able to absorb shocks and protect themselves against mechanical impacts.

 

watch the self-healing robots in action

 

 

these soft robots made by VUB scientists can be used for countless applications like grabbing delicate objects in the food industry or in minimally invasive surgery. because of their soft nature, they are susceptible to damage caused by sharp objects or excessive pressure. but due to their rubbery polymers body, they are able to recover their original shape and then heal completely. this is possible thanks to their thermoreversible characteristics that reacts to heat.

self-healing robots designboom
made from rubbery polymers, these self-healing robots can be used to grab delicate objects or in surgery

 

 

‘the polymer has lots of different strands that lock together to form the material. when you add heat, they reorganize to stick back together without leaving any weak spots,’ says bram vanderborght, who led the research to new scientist. ‘at the moment when ordinary robot parts break they have to be replaced, but that’s soon going to change.’

self-healing robots designboom
they are able to recover their original shape and then heal completely

self-healing robots designboom
the healing is possible thanks to their thermoreversible characteristics that reacts to heat

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