Scientists Create Robots that ‘Sweat’ to Keep Themselves from Overheating

  • AUTHOR: fiona
  • POSTED ON: February 4, 2020

Scientists have created robots that ‘sweat,’ just like humans, to cool themselves down while carrying out demanding tasks. 

The AI technology is slowly and gradually digging its claws into every industry. With the advancement in the tech world, it’s no news that robots are not only taking over human jobs but are also undertaking demanding tasks. The latter produces more heat as a by-product because the execution of such tasks requires excessive energy.

The liberated heat can cause malfunctioning of the robot if it does not cool in time. Observing this probability, the researchers from Cornell University considered how humans perspire after working in extreme conditions, which lowers their body temperature.

Probing into the phenomena, these researchers created a technique that lets these machines eject a cooling liquid, which is stored around the machine component that is responsible for moving and controlling the entire assembly. 

However, this technique is still in the development stages, and the prototype model is encountering some problems, which include the robot’s movement due to the process. 

Scientists are hopeful that this ‘sweating’ technique will soon become a reliable option to cool bulky systems.

The components that move and control the machine assembly are called actuators that contain fans and radiators. Since these components are rigid and bulky, creating soft and fluid robots is a sector that needs exploration.

“Additionally, these components are conventionally made from rigid materials that are incompatible with fully soft robots. So to realize the numerous advantages of soft robots, we wanted to explore a thermoregulatory strategy that was compatible with soft polymeric materials,” researcher Thomas J Wallin from the Facebook Reality Labs said.

To create a compact cooling assembly, the research team has created finger-like fluidic actuators from hydrogels, which can retain a large quantity of water and act as a heat reservoir body for the machine. 

These fingers have two layers. The bottom layer has an internal channel for the water flow, and the top layer contains micropores to support ‘sweating.’

When operating at temperatures below 86 degrees Fahrenheit, the pores close due to the low-temperature conditions.

When exposed to higher temperatures, the pores open up, and the top layer expands. This encourages favorable pressure in different conditions and the fluid flows from the bottom layer and ejects as ‘sweat’ from the pores.

The Science Robotics journal published a study which showed that when exposed to a fan in lab tests, the sweating actuators cooled about six times faster than the non-sweating ones.

Considering the developments and setbacks discussed in the paper, these ‘sweating’ robots might take some time to become mainstream. One of the major reasons behind this setback is the scientists’ inability to replenish lost water content during the operation.


Updated February 4, 2020
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