See a Real-Life “Terminator” Robot Melt Into a Liquid and Break Free from a Prison Cell

A tiny robotic system that can change from solid to liquid and back again has been developed by scientists, bringing some of the legends of old science fiction to life in the process.

See a Real-Life "Terminator" Robot Melt Into a Liquid and Break Free from a Prison Cell

Thirty years ago, with the release of Terminator 2: Judgment Day in 1991, violent liquid metal robots arrived in our dreams. This film’s T-1000 robot, which could alter its form at a whim, conquered any obstacle.

Since then, we have been plagued by the spectre of Skynet and the coming robot apocalypse. Finally, an international team of researchers created a T-1000 with more charitable goals.

The group argues that rather than Hollywood, they were inspired by the humble sea cucumber, which can transform between soft and hard physical states.

See a Real-Life "Terminator" Robot Melt Into a Liquid and Break Free from a Prison Cell

Engineer Chengfeng Pan, who directed the experiment at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, argues that allowing robots to switch between liquid and solid phases gives them a higher capacity.

Pan and colleagues demonstrate these enhanced capabilities by placing one of their microrobots in a simulated prison cell and illustrating how it may escape, alluding to Terminator-inspired night terrors.

It can be challenging to make out what is going on in the video up top. Nevertheless, the robot transforms into a liquid, flows through the bars, and into the waiting mold, where it cools, reforms, and ultimately emerges. Given that it needs a mold to recreate itself, this escapee is a little less terrifying than a T-1000. It’s still enough to enrage any Luddite, though.

The demonstration is a component of a study published in Matter on Wednesday. According to Carnegie Mellon University senior author Carmel Majidi, Magnets enable all of this futuristic change.

“In this case, magnetic particles perform two functions. One is that they make the material responsive to an oscillating magnetic field, enabling you to heat it and cause a phase shift through induction. However, the magnetic particles also provide the robots with mobility and the ability to move in response to the magnetic field.”

The phase-changing material flows more like water than others because the particles are encased in gallium, a metal with a very low melting temperature of about 86 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 30 degrees Celsius).

In experiments, the miniature robots demonstrated the ability to split in half, re-merge, scale walls, and jump over obstacles while being controlled magnetically.

According to Pan, we are advancing this material system in more useful ways to address particular medical and engineering issues.

Other demos involved using the robots to dispense medication, solder circuits, and remove a foreign thing from a simulated stomach.

The technology is envisioned as a “universal screw” that melts into a screw socket and solidifies without the need for real screwing, allowing for repairs to be made in difficult-to-reach places.

The possible medical applications greatly thrill the team.

Future research should investigate how these robots might be employed in a biomedical setting, according to Majidi. We’re only showcasing proofs of concept here; much more research is needed to explore how this may be used in administering drugs or removing foreign things.

Hopefully, weapons micro-melting robots will never be on the list of foreign objects that need to be removed because they might be challenging to locate and remove.

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