Shape-Shifting Liquid Metal Motor Brings Us One Step Closer to the T-1000
Scientists have already accomplished Terminator-inspired bionic technology, but this is on a whole new level. This self-powered liquid metal robot has the ability to shape-shift and looks just like the beginnings of a T-1000.
Just like the T-1000, this self-fueled motor is made of liquid metal, a drop of metal alloy made mostly of gallium, to be exact. It uses contact with a flake of aluminum in order to fuel itself, and when saturated in a sodium hydroxide solution, it can move on its own for approximately an hour. As seen in the above video, it can move in circles, in straight lines, along a zig-zag path, etc. Its movement is the result of a charge imbalance across the drop, which then creates a pressure differential that thrusts the drop forward.
But the most terrifyingly familiar part of the video demonstrates the motor's ability to shape-shift, including its ability to squeeze through small spaces: "The soft machine looks rather intelligent and [can] deform itself according to the space it voyages in, just like [the] Terminator does from the science-fiction film," Jing Liu from Tsinghua University said to New Scientist. "These unusual behaviors perfectly resemble the living organisms in nature."
Where's the liquid nitrogen when you really need it?
The researchers assured those worried about a robopocalypse, however, that they planned to use their powers for good rather than evil. Intelligent, flexible robots that can change shape could have many versatile applications, such as environmental monitoring or even delivering medicines through blood vessels.
"Such liquid robots will be a seed of artificial life seen in some movies," said Taro Toyota of the University of Tokyo. "I would raise Flubber instead of Terminator 2."