Is Blood the Newest Idea for Robots?

Robots are being envisioned as solutions to lots of problems, from a lack of willing agricultural workers to increasing need for disaster response. But robots have some problems of their own.

Along with their tendency to fall down, running out of energy is a top challenge for robots. They use a lot of energy, so any application that takes them away from an electric outlet is going to be an issue. Batteries would have to be impractically large to power robot movement, and carrying batteries just adds to the energy needs of the robot.

Batteries are being improved, but a group of researchers at Cornell have a new idea. What if robots used fluid to wash through their energy source and carry electricity to all parts of the robot?

Sort of like blood.

It’s a more efficient means of storing and transferring energy, so it can work with current lithium ion batteries to extend the use of the energy currently available to robots.

At least in theory. At the moment, the robot model that is trying this out is an automated lionfish-like creature. It forces fluid through batteries and carries the energized liquid out to the delicate fronds of what we might call its dorsal fin. It’s something like a heart.

It’s also the fishy robot’s means of propulsion. That means that this element is multipurpose: causing the fish to move (very very slowly) and also storing energy. That’s a nearly unique idea in robotics. Parts for robots almost always do just one thing.

Biomimicry is a major trend in robotics, but animals’ parts are nearly always multipurpose. That’s something the researchers want to add to the robotics experience. Thinking “heart” and “circulatory system” could lead to very different results from “battery” and “motors.”

The robot fish can swim for 36 hours, about eight times longer than usual. It can also be constructed with much more flexibility than the average robot.

Whether you’re powering and controlling average robots or something completely different, you can count on us to keep your Rexroth electric motion control systems running smoothly. We provide phone support, field service, and factory repair and reman. Contact us today.

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