While you probably never thought it would be a good idea to eat a robot, some researchers at Johannes Kepler University Linz in Austria believe that robots with edible parts could lead the way towards body-save systems that can deliver medicine and perform more natural robotic movements.
The robots, made out of food-safe ingredients like gelatin and citric acid, are also biodegradable and reusable.
From New Scientist:
The team used the gel to make a robot that mimics an elephant’s trunk and found that it could withstand over 330,000 cycles of non-stop movements without drying out or cracking.
They also integrated sensors to allow for feedback and control. The team added a pressure sensor to another robot made from the gel, a toy elephant, allowing it to grip objects with its trunk.
Since gelatine is edible, the gel might also be useful for administering drugs to animals, by creating a robot disguised as prey or food says Kaltenbrunner. It could also be used to make safer children’s toys, he says. The electronics and sensors are currently not edible, however.
You can read the entire paper in Nature. One interesting point? The ultimate goal of the project is to create “durable, life-like soft robotic and electronic systems that are sustainable and closely mimic their natural antetypes.” I’ll bet.