Robots have evolved significantly, thanks to technology progress, and are now coming in a variety of shapes, from the iconic one -anthropomorphic robots- to autonomous ships, underground trains, manufacturing robots and even vacuum cleaners.
As technology will progress further they will keep taking even more shapes, from micro to macro.
This is what is stated in an article published on Science Robotics by a team of researchers from Oregon State, Yale, Colorado Universities and the École Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne. Nothing particularly new then. What is interesting though is the vision they are proposing of matters, materials, that becomes robotic and they envision a specific branch of science to study this: material robotics.
According to their vision robots will disappear from our perception because basically any object becomes a robot. A shoe, to give an example, will be manufactured with a material that sense the way you walk, your gait, and will change its elasticity and shape to fit your walking and slowly correct it, as needed.
Materials can be designed in such a way to sense the environment, process the information and change its physical characteristics as needed.
They are showing (watch the clip) how it is possible to manufacture objects to create these characteristics. Using paper-like material and folding it they have created origamis that can change their shape, that have exceptional strength, like the one shown in the photo able to lift 1,000 times its weight.
Smart materials will play a significant role in the next decades and smart cities will become smarter thanks to them.
The researchers point out in their article that robots will even end up in our body, augmenting us and may be in our brain… living in a symbiotic relation with us.
At that point they wonder if they will actually be a brain taking over a body… Looks like science fiction, and it probably is, but it surely makes you think at what lays beyond the frontiers of science that are getting closer and closer.