This short, simple video is much more than it seems. It demonstrates new material created by U.S. researchers that moves in response to light. Soft and flexible, the stuff could be used one day to manufacture robots.
Today's robots are limited by their stiff, heavy components. They certainly don't move "naturally," and sometimes their range of motions and portability is limited. And, so far, they also require an onboard energy source, which adds even more weight.
So, a team at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Ohio has created a series of cantilevers made from azobenzene liquid crystal polymer networks that can twist and coil -- and is powered only by a change in the polarity and intensity of an external light source -- all in an effort to rethink the movement of robots and make them more lifelike. One day, they may even be able to mimic animal movements, thanks to the flexible materials.
The next step for the researchers is to create more complex material that can move better and be used in larger-scale applications. Stay tuned for more.