In science fiction, there’s always the suspense trope of a cold, metallic hand reaching out and grasping someone. And it make sense – metal is cold and hard, just isn’t something you’d want to mess with. Enter soft-touch materials. These make more sense in applications where the robot would be interacting with humans, but they can also work in industrial settings.
The big problem you have in a factory is those soft materials handling sharp objects. Sure, they won’t mar the product, but then they get damaged themselves. Well, what if the material could actually heal itself? That’s what this article over at IEEE is talking about.
In fact, there are two varieties. Both have interactions due to heat, but one requires the robot to go off to an area to be cleaned before healing the surfaces (so dirt isn’t embedded), and the other can auto-heal itself when it detects damage. It’s an interesting next step, for sure, and these are the sorts of advancements we like to see in the world of robotics, for sure.