The camo-bot is an upgraded version of a soft-bodied machine that strode out of George Whitesides’ laboratory at Harvard University last year. That white, translucent machine ambled about on four legs, swapping hard motors and hydraulics for inflatable pockets of air. Now, Morin has fitted the robot’s back with a sheet of silicone containing a network of tiny tubes, each less than half a millimetre wide. By pumping coloured liquids through these “microfluidic” channels, he can change the robot’s colour in about 30 seconds…
The robot is still awkward and its disguise is imperfect. Morin has to prepare the coloured liquids beforehand, and pump them into the robots via cumbersome tubes. The team are now working on larger models that can carry their own power sources, pumps, fluids, and electronics, and operate without human support.
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