If mankind’s own creations one day rise up to take control of the planet and turn us all into batteries or something, you can bet that they’ll also be able to heal themselves. Researchers from the Free University of Brussels just revealed a novel implementation of a self-healing polymer which could give robots the ability to actually fix themselves back up if they are damaged. This is probably one of those things apocalypse historians will look back on some day and shake their heads.
In an pretty nifty proof-of-concept the research team built a robotic hand out of a soft, rubber-like self-healing polymer. The hand is capable of manipulating objects much like a rigid robotic hand would, but unlike metal or brittle plastic, the hand can recover from stabs and slices. Once a small amount of heat is applied to the “wound,” the polymer knits itself back together and seals off the injury.
The idea here is that, instead of replacing parts on a damaged robot, mishaps can be mitigated simply by melting the robot’s wounded body parts back together. Long-term, the same technology could potentially be used to allow robots to actual heal themselves without human interaction of any kind, with the end goal being completely automatic healing of minor damage.
We’re still a long way off from combat robots patching themselves up after a firefight, but if you had any doubt that the human race is working hard to make sure robots are superior to humans in every way, this should take care of that.