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 Mechanical engineer creates robot Venus Flytrap

This story is from the category Artificial Intelligence
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Date posted: 27/10/2011

Mohsen Shahinpoor, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Maine has created a robot version of the infamous bug eating Venus Flytrap, using a material he invented himself several years ago. Named ionic polymeric metal composite (IPMC), it's a nanomaterial that can be used to mimic muscle function. Shahinpoor describes in his paper published in Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, how he used this material to recreate the sensing and closing abilities of the Venus Flytrap.

To make the robot, Shahinpoor fashioned two “leaves” out of the material he’d created to mimic the mouth-like appearance of the Flytrap. He then created a spine from a roll of copper. Then to copy the tiny hairs on the Flytrap that function as the sensors, he added very small strips of the IMPC material. The rest of the robot was constructed as a normal relay and voltage generation system.

The new material in the robot works in two ways. First, because of the unique properties of the IPMC material, simply touching it causes a very small voltage to be generated. The second is the muscle type flexing or bending, exhibited by the material when given a charge. With the robot, the small strips serve as sensors, that when touched, relay a tiny charge to the voltage generator which sends a little bit bigger charge to the “leaves” causing them to bend inwardly towards one another, or in viewing it, as a mouth closing on its prey.

See the full Story via external site: www.physorg.com



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