Singapore-ALSHARQIYA June 6: Researchers in Singapore have developed a smart foam material that enables robots to sense nearby objects, and even repair themselves in the event of a defect, just like human skin.
And the artificially equipped foam with nerves, known as IFOM, is a highly flexible polymer, made of a fluoropolymer with a compound that reduces surface tension, according to "Reuters".
This enables the spongy material to easily assemble into a single unit if cut, said the researchers at the National University of Singapore.
The lead researcher, Benjamin T, explained that the molecules of the material converge within the polymer matrix upon pressure, which changes its electrical properties.
He continued, "This change can be monitored through electrodes connected to a computer that tells the robot what to do. When I bring my finger close to the sensor, you can see that it measures my electric field and responds according to my touch."
This feature enables the robot's hand to monitor the amount and direction of the applied force, which can make it more intelligent and interactive.
"Evum is the first of its kind to combine self-healing properties with a feeling of closeness and pressure," said T. He and his team, after spending two years developing the material, hope it will be put to practical use within five years.
"It can also allow prosthetic users to better use the prosthetic hand to grasp objects," he said.