Duke University engineers designed a proof-of-principle soft robot modeled after a dragonfly that can skim across water and react to environmental conditions, without electronics.
DraBot features a network of interior microchannels controlled with air pressure and linked by flexible silicon tubing, while its frame is built from heat-hardened silicon in an aluminum mold.
The microchannels carry air into DraBot's front wings, where it vents through holes pointed directly into the back wings.
DraBot remains stationary when both back wings are down because the airflow is blocked, while raising the wings propels it forward; balloon actuators under the back wings can be inflated or deflated to steer the robot.
One set of wings is painted with a self-healing hydrogel that reacts to changes in the surrounding water's pH; the hydrogel is doped with materials that change color in response to oil and temperature shifts.
From Duke University Pratt School of Engineering
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