Similar to human beings, when machines like computers get too hot, they can stop functioning properly or optimally. This is we as humans sweat, to help our body cool down, and this is a concept that researchers are taking and applying it to robots. This has resulted in a soft robot that can apparently “sweat” to keep itself cool.
It is believed that with this concept, in the future, more robots could be used in the field in environments that are hot, or work for longer periods of time without overheating as the “sweating” would essentially allow it to cool down.
To create this “sweating” soft robot, researchers covered the fingers with a resin that can shrink and expand depending on the temperature. The finger was also drilled with microscopic pores that would only allow water to drip out at temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius, meaning that at lower temperatures, it would retain the water similar to humans.
However, there are some hurdles that need to be overcome before this can be implemented. For example, how do these robots deal with the slipperyness of the water when it comes to grasping objects, and also, how do they replenish the water when it runs out?
According to the paper’s co-author Robert Shepherd, these robots might need to adopt a human trait: drinking. “The answer is right in front of me — I’m drinking some coffee right now. I think in order for the robot to operate with the sweating we have created, it would also have to be able to drink.”