Researchers at the University of California Santa Barbara have created a soft type of robot inspired by vines and is able to detect heat sources and move towards them. In the future it is possible to create for example fire hoses based on this technology, hoses which can move towards the fires.

The two-meter-long robot created by the researchers is based on a folded pneumatic artificial muscle. Consisting of segments the robot is made of a pair of thin Mylar bags filled with a refrigerant called Novec 7000. The bags are separated by insulating low density polyethylene. Each range that is divided into segments can expand while reducing overall length. This happens when their internal frozen liquid evaporates at a temperature of over 93F.

As the segment on the heated side expands and contracts, the section on the other side elongates in parallel. Scientists say their robot can maneuver around simple obstacles and bend backwards to stay out of the heat. The robot also has inversion capabilities, meaning it can extend or unfold from its interior.

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