Terminator 2 comes to life: the shape-shifting robot liquefies to escape a cage, then springs back to its original form – just like a scene from the 1991 film
In the 1991 movie “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” the T-1000 liquefies to smash through metal bars, and this sci-fi scene is recreated in a real-world robot.
A video of a shape-shifting robot shows it trapped in a cage, melting and then sliding through the bars where it reformed outside.
Researchers led by the Chinese University of Hong Kong created the new phase-shifting material by embedding magnetic particles in gallium, a metal with a very low melting point of 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
While the team doesn’t see the innovation threatening humanity like in the Terminator movie, they anticipate that it will remove foreign objects from the body or deliver drugs on demand.
The scientists tested the robot through a series of “hurdles”. We saw a robot in the shape of a person inside a cage
As well as being able to change shape, engineers say their robots are magnetic and can also conduct electricity.
The robots were tested in mobility and makeover obstacle courses.
READ MORE: Shape-shifting liquid engine powers itself by “EATING” metal
The terrifying dystopia of shapeshifting metal assassins seen in Terminator 2 may not have been as far-fetched as first thought.
Chinese researchers have created droplets of liquid metal that move through obstacle courses and Petri dishes by ‘eating’ aluminum flakes
Team leader Dr. Chengfeng Pan explained that where traditional robots are hard and rigid, “soft” robots have the opposite problem; they are flexible but weak and their movements are difficult to control.
“Giving robots the ability to switch between liquid and solid state gives them more functionality,” Pan said.
Lead author Professor Carmel Majidi, a mechanical engineer at Carnegie Mellon University, Canada, said: ‘Magnetic particles have two roles here.
“The first is that they make the material sensitive to an alternating magnetic field, so you can inductively heat the material and cause the phase change.
“But magnetic particles also give robots mobility and the ability to move in response to the magnetic field.”
He explained that the process is in contrast to existing phase-shifting materials that rely on heat guns, electric currents or other external heat sources to induce solid-to-liquid transformation.
Prof Majidi says the new material also has an “extremely fluid” liquid phase compared to other phase-change materials, whose “liquid” phases are considerably more viscous.
Before exploring potential applications, the team tested the material’s mobility and strength in various scenarios.
The robot seems to be inspired by Terminator 2: Judgment Day. In the 1991 film, T-1000 liquefies to pass through metal bars
The robot liquefies and slides through the bars. It’s because of magnetic particles embedded in gallium, a metal with a very low melting point of 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Using a magnetic field, the robots jumped over moats, climbed walls, and even split in half to cooperatively move other objects before regrouping.
“Now we are pushing this hardware system more practically to address some very specific medical and technical issues,” Pan said.
The team also used the robots to remove a foreign object from a model stomach and to deliver on-demand medication to the same stomach.
The robot can be heated and an external magnet pulls it in a specific direction
Once outside the cage, the robot returns to its solid form
The innovation can also function as intelligent welding robots for wireless circuit assembly and repair and as a universal mechanical “screw” for joining parts in hard-to-reach spaces.
Professor Majidi added: “Future work should further explore how these robots could be used in a biomedical context.
“What we’re showing are just one-off demonstrations, proofs of concept, but a lot more study will be needed to dig deeper into how this might actually be used for drug delivery or to remove foreign objects.”