Foam Metal Could Make Terminator 2-Style, Shape-Shifting Robots

By Gary Cutlack on at

A new form of metal that combines both rigid bits and soft bits has been demonstrated by technicians at Cornell University, who make the outlandish claim that it might one day be used to transform aeroplane wings in mid-flight.

The idea blends "stiff metal and soft, porous rubber foam" to create the new kind of material, using a soft alloy called Field’s metal as the metal bit -- chosen because it melts at 62 °C so is therefore easy enough to mould into new shapes on the fly. An elastomer foam is dipped into a molten tub of it, left to cool in a vacuum and voila -- bendy space metal you could form into a tube and do sex with.

Cornell engineering professor Rob Shepherd would rather we talk about the military implications of the substance rather than ways it could make Korean lady robots yield to our hot, wanting touch, saying it could be used to transform a plane wing into a boat when it hits water, explaining: "If you have a wing that’s really broad, you can’t do that because the wing will break off when it hits the water. So you need to sweep it back, similar to what a puffin does, and then go under water. And using that new shape, it could be a propeller-driven ship."

Student Ilse Van Meerbeek says it might help robotic craft bend through dangerous structures too, adding: "It would be able to go into dangerous and/or unpredictable environments, and be able to go through narrow cracks, which rigid robots can’t do." [Cornell University]

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