Shape-shifting robots will get smarter with the sensor enabled robotic fabric
Researchers headed by Rebecca Kramer at the Purdue University have developed robotic fabric loaded with sensors that can contract or expand depending on the requirement. This new class of active clothing could have many applications that could make us more super-human. For example it could assist us in moving faster or give added strength and endurance or perhaps pave way for spacesuits that counteract the effects of space travel and atmospheric pressure. Just a couple of days ago we came across the Shrink-wrapping spacesuits which eliminates the need for those bulky spacesuits, and this robotic fabric is even one step ahead.
The fabric is made from cotton and has sensors made from flexible polymer and thread-like strands that returns to a pre-defined shape when heated. This assists in augmenting a block of foam for different kind of movements like an inchworm or gliding motion like that of a sand snake. Essentially, this fabric could mean shape-shifting robots have more dexterity and ability to adapt to any kind of situation.
According to Rebecca Kramer, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University
We have integrated both actuation and sensing, whereas most robotic fabrics currently in development feature only sensing or other electronic components that utilize conductive thread. We also use standard sewing techniques to introduce the thread-like actuators and sensors into the fabric, so they could conceivably be integrated into the existing textile manufacturing infrastructure.