Here today, gone tomorrow: Biodegradable soft robots

Rossiter, J., Winfield, J. and Ieropoulos, I. (2016) Here today, gone tomorrow: Biodegradable soft robots. Proceedings of SPIE, 9798. 97981S. ISSN 0277-786X Available from:

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One of the greatest challenges to modern technologies is what to do with them when they go irreparably wrong or come to the end of their productive lives. The convention, since the development of modern civilisation, is to discard a broken item and then procure a new one. In the 20th century enlightened environmentalists campaigned for recycling and reuse (R&R). R&R has continued to be an important part of new technology development, but there is still a huge problem of non recyclable materials being dumped into landfill and being discarded in the environment. The challenge is even greater for robotics, a field which will impact on all aspects of our lives, where discards include motors, rigid elements and toxic power supplies and batteries. One novel solution is the biodegradable robot, an active physical machine that is composed of biodegradable materials and which degrades to nothing when released into the environment. In this paper we examine the potential and realities of biodegradable robotics, consider novel solutions to core components such as sensors, actuators and energy scavenging, and give examples of biodegradable robotics fabricated from everyday, and not so common, biodegradable electroactive materials. The realisation of truly biodegradable robots also brings entirely new deployment, exploration and bio remediation capabilities: why track and recover a few large non-biodegradable robots when you could speculatively release millions of biodegradable robots instead? We will consider some of these exciting developments and explore the future of this new field.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Copyright 2016 Society of Photo Optical Instrumentation Engineers. One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic reproduction and distribution, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modification of the content of the paper are prohibited.
Uncontrolled Keywords:biodegradable robotics, biodegradable electroactive polymers, soft robotics, bio-remediation
Faculty/Department:Faculty of Environment and Technology > Department of Engineering Design and Mathematics
ID Code:30436
Deposited By: J.-M. Maheu
Deposited On:25 Nov 2016 13:12
Last Modified:15 Nov 2017 22:45

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