A team of Korean researchers has just developed a chameleon robot wrapped in a membrane that changes color to mimic its environment. This technology could have applications even in architecture and fashion.
The ability of chameleons to change color has puzzled scientists for a long time. This camouflage technique represents an objective for many researchers, and could have applications practices in many fields, including robotics. Korean researchers have just created a new robot capable of blending into the background. They published the details of their research in the journal Nature Communications.
Chameleons manage to change color thanks to the contraction of muscles under the skin, which act on nanocrystals. Researchers had already succeeded in creating a coating with a similar ability, which reacts when bent or stretched. However, the Korean team opted for another track, using the heat.
A demonstration of the robot that changes color in real time. © Seung Hwan Ko and al.
A change of color thanks to the heat
Scientists have created a soft robot with a “skin” made up of a layer of crystals liquids thermochromic. Below it, they placed a structure made up of several layers of silver nanowires which serve as heating elements. This structure allows the robot not only to change color, but also to create patterns to better blend into the decor.
The robot is equipped with sensors to detect the colors of its environment connected to a microcontroller which translates the color into temperature and allows the robot to change color in real time. The robot is not yet able to generate patterns automatically, but this is one of the next goals. Ultimately, researchers imagine applications not only for military camouflage, but also in the field of architecture, art and fashion.
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