Accession Number:



Designing "Gel Bots" that Communicate Through Self-generated Mechanical Forces

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Final Report]

Corporate Author:

University of Pittsburgh

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



The purpose of the Short-Term Innovative Research STIR Program is to provide short-term funding to help launch high-risk, innovative research and allow researchers to obtain preliminary results that can steer further explorations of new concepts. To put our proposed work in a larger context, we first describe our overarching goals. In Section II, we describe the specific short-term studies we will undertake with this seed funding to help realize our long-term vision. Our long-term goal is to revolutionize the design of soft robots, enabling these machines to exhibit the dynamic and adaptive functionality of biological systems. Current robots require microprocessors and microelectronics to directand power the devices to perform specific tasks. For the robot to alter its function, the programmer must alter the code. Hence, such robotic systems are not particularly adaptive they cannot spontaneously modify their functionality in response to environmental changes. In contrast, polymer gels offer a significant range of stimuli-responsive properties, allowing the material to dynamically and autonomously change its behavior in response to external cues. We aim to merge fundamental concepts from robotics and polymer science to design systems wherethe machine and the material are one and the same entity, thus creating soft robots that can autonomously sense, communicate, move and perform collaborative activities. To carry out these studies, we must establish new design rules for creating systems that operate out of equilibrium and dissipate energy to function. To date, there are few guidelines for designing dissipative, dynamic materials, which are vital for fabricating the next generation of adaptive robots.

Subject Categories:

  • Cybernetics
  • Theoretical Mathematics
  • Miscellaneous Materials

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]