Chameleon-inspired robot skin instantly changes colors


“[Building] The first prototype was very slow,” says Hwan Ko. The first step was to determine whether the robot would be modeled after a vertebrate (a vertebrate animal) or an invertebrate such as a squid or an octopus. Because an invertebrate model could offer greater freedom of movement, the team initially made plans to mimic the octopus, but Hwan Ko said the idea was “very ambitious.”

After fiddling with different designs and material structures, the team finally decided to tackle the simpler form of the chameleon. By turning the nanowires into simple patterns of dots, lines, or scale shapes, they were able to create the complex effect shown in this video.

Despite previous research on artificial camouflage Often labeled for military use, Hwan Ko hopes his work will have a wider impact, particularly in the fields of transportation, beauty and fashion. Future applications could include cars that adapt their colors to stand out, and even color-changing fabrics.

“This chameleon skin, the surface, is basically a kind of display,” he says. “It can be used for a soft or stretchable or flexible screen.”

Because the technology is temperature dependent, it doesn’t work in extreme cold either, which can make it difficult for the fake chameleon to perform the full color spectrum.

Ramses Martinez, An assistant professor of bio-inspired robotics at Purdue University says that turning other biologically inspired systems into new technologies could open up more possibilities, including systems that help locate survivors after an earthquake.


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