Scientists have created a unique robot that is made of biodegradable materials and can move without getting energy from batteries, accumulators and other energy sources.
The robot was created within the framework of the European I-Seed project, which was launched in 2021 by researchers at the Bioinspired Soft Robotics (BSR) laboratory at the Italian Institute of Technology. The scientists have also collaborated with the University of Trento.
Based on this development, it is planned to create environmentally friendly sensors for monitoring the environment, which will not only help control the presence of harmful and greenhouse substances, but also will not harm nature.
This soft and biodegradable robot was inspired by the seed propagation principle of the South African geranium – Pelargonium appendiculatum. The seed walls of this plant contain a nonliving tissue that changes fiber length with changes in moisture. This is cellulose that does not need life support, metabolism or nutrition. But when the humidity changes, the seeds begin to move purely mechanically. As the seeds swell and dry, they move until they find themselves in soil cracks, which increases the possibility of their germination under favorable conditions.
After studying the tissue and cell structure of these seeds, the scientists reproduced them in the form of a soft robot made by 3D printing. Of course, finding the right material for this was not easy.