Science News

This Robot Sweats And Does Pushups

A robot built by Japanese inventors sweats to keep cool. Much like what happens to human muscles when physical activity takes place, a robot’s mechanisms tend to heat up while up and running. Humans, however, have sweat glands that act to cool the body. Of course, robots don’t have that built-in process.

But researchers at the University of Tokyo, led by Professor Masayuki Inaba, were able to address the problem of overheating. The team found a way for their mechanical man to sweat water through its metal parts. This process keeps the robot’s humanoid frame slender, while letting it perform tasks that would have otherwise burnt out its motors.

Previously, robots needed to be bulkier and larger to prevent overheating. They needed to have fans, heat sinks or radiators to cool the systems down.

This robot, named Kengoro, could complete pushups continuously for 11 minutes, reports Quartz.

Kengoro already has plenty packed into it, including circuit boards, gears and 108 motors. But it also has water seeping through its solid aluminum frame, which the research team constructed via 3D printing. This allowed them to change the density of the material, making grooves in the aluminum frame less dense so that water could pass through. In doing so, the water fills the porous material, like a sponge, where it evaporates to cool the robot’s components.

The Jouhou System Kougaku Laboratory at the university has been creating intelligent robots to perform different functions. Kengoro is the sixth bio-inspired robot to come out of the lab, and has been designed for durability and strength. The other robots with musculo-skeletal humanoid designs were made to mimic the human body.

The lab was also created assistive robots for the elderly, capable of doing tasks like helping outdoors or in simple, everyday tasks.

Kengoro was presented at the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS).

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