Sunday October 15, 2017

This week in edible robots

Researchers in Switzerland have developed robotic materials that are edible, like the arms holding this apple.

Researchers in Switzerland have developed robotic materials that are edible, like the arms holding this apple. (IEEE Spectrum)

Listen 2:14

Of all the scenarios we think of when we imagine what the future might look like, I suspect not many of us have considered the idea of self-delivering pizza.

Yep. Of all the spectacular things the we may experience in the near future, robotic, pizzas that just hop onto your table, ready to slice, may be one of them.

Researchers in Lausanne, Switzerland, have developed a robot made entirely out of gelatin and glycerin.

They presented their findings at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems held last month in Vancouver.

Yes, from fingers to batteries, the thing is entirely edible. And, naturally, biodegradable.

Why?

Well, if you think about it, besides self-delivering pizza, there are lots of interesting uses for digestible robotics.

They could deliver medicines inside our own bodies. They could be used to repair tissue internally.

They could be used to track animals, sending location information as they pass through the animal's digestive system.

They could replace medical procedures like endoscopies or colonoscopies.

But, really, all that stuff, you know, the lifesaving features or research opportunities, are really just tangential.

As the paper itself says, they could become "food transportation where the robot doesn't require additional payload because the robot is the food." (Our emphasis.)

Yep. Self-delivering pizza.

Wait until Skynet hears about this. It's gonna be ticked.