Edible robots are the next big step in robotics and medicine. Scientists and doctors are working together to find ways of controlling robots that can be digested without causing harm to humans or animals for exploratory or health purposes. Now, researchers from EPFL have made the job less daunting after coming up with a digestible actuator #machinemagic
Swiss scientists created a soft pneumatic actuator made from gelatin. They put gelatin, glycerol, and water in a mold similar to the ice cube trays we keep at home. The result? A device that looks like two flexible fingers that bend when are inflated and loosen up when the pressure on them reduces. By doing so, they’re capable of grasping objects and lifting them from the ground. So far, the team has had success with apples, eggs, LEGO bricks and even plastic bottles:
This is not the first mechanical piece that has been turned into a digestible item. Scientists have created transistors, batteries, capacitors and more until now. But this edible actuator is like the missing piece of the digestible robot puzzle. It’s a biodegradable, biocompatible unit that links all the others.
Such robots will have multiple uses in the future. They could be used for exploration, as well as for food transportation and healing. If mixed with medicine, they could heal a human from the inside out or help preserve wild animal species.