Korean scientists have created a Robotic Chameleon, which has reptile-like eyes, the ability to crawl and can change its skin colour automatically to blend into its surroundings in real-time like the real-life chameleon.
The chameleon is known for having certain unusual characteristics. One of its peculiar characteristics is the ability of its eyeballs to move in different directions. Though, its most recognised feature is its ability to change colours to match its environment.
According to research published in the journal Nature Communications, the scientists created an artificial electronic skin – made of several stacked layers of colour-changing displays instead of the colour-changing material – for the small segmented robot which uses nanotech sensors to change colour immediately and autonomously to match the background colours it moves over. It’s one of the first robots that adapt its colour and design to its surroundings.
Usage in Military
The intriguing robot may not have much utility on its own, but the technology behind it could lead to interesting developments in the military, such as next-generation active camouflage. The technology could even make its way into the fashion business, allowing apparel to change colour depending on its surroundings.
The artificial skin’s ability to change colour isn’t its only trick. On its surface, it can also display patterns. The robot, like a true chameleon, does not reflect its surroundings; instead, it is designed to blend in. Sukjoon Hong told Inverse, the study’s primary author, the skin doesn’t have to completely mimic the background it’s on perfectly. According to Hong, the quantity of camouflage is sufficient as long as the robot’s skin design is intricate enough.
Liquid Crystal Coating
The skin of the robot was created with a liquid crystal ink coating that can produce any hue by adjusting the orientation of its molecules. The liquid crystal ink particles can assemble into bigger helical structures that can reflect any colour of light, with the size of the particles controlling the colour produced by the skin. It can make patterns as well as solid colours by activating many heater patterns at the same time. Within half a second, the robot can colour match its surroundings.