The future: it’s undeniably going to be a terrifying place. If you thought today was scary, just wait to see what tomorrow brings. Case in point: this sea cucumber-inspired shape-shifting soft robot developed by researchers at Carnegie Melon and Sun Yat-sen University can melt, escape a prison cell, and reform itself outside the bars just like a T-1000 Terminator. Yikes!
The soft robot, officially a ‘magnetoactive solid-liquid phase transitional machine,’ is made of magnetic particles suspended in metal with a low melting point (in this case, Galinstan, a combination of gallium, indium, and tin). When hit with an alternating magnetic field, the LEGO minifig-inspired bot is induction heated from a solid to a liquid state. After oozing out of its imprisonment, freezing reforms the solid bot on the floor outside its cell again. I’m scared. Are you scared?
The researchers say potential applications of the technology include “smart soldering machines and universal screws for smart assembly and machines for foreign body removal and drug delivery in a model stomach.” That certainly sounds admirable, but I’ve got the feeling all we’re really gonna get out of this are a bunch of killer robots that can’t be contained.