Robots might run the risk of taking over many of our jobs, but they will never truly understand what it is to be human, so they can never take that away from us as they toil, doing for a full 24 hours what we can only manage to do for 8. They will never truly understand what it takes to be tire or sweat out after a hard day’s work.
Now it appears though that some scientists are taking that last part away from us too. As reviewed in Science Robotics, a group of scientists have created a set of materials and trained robots to sweat, so that they will be able to cool themselves off if they get close to over-heating, much the ae way sweat works for our body. As material scientist T.J. Wallin describes:
The ability to perspire is one of the most remarkable features of humans. We’re not the fastest animals, but early humans found success as persistent hunters, using our ability to run and stay cool via sweating to physically exhaust our prey.
And now you’ve just gone and taken that advantage away from us – thanks. The robot in question is a tree-fingered gripper that contains pressurized reservoirs inside the robotic fingers that are filled with water and connected to the surface via ducts made of heat-reactive plastic. When the plastic hits a certain temperature, the pores open and water is pushed to the surface. There, it evaporates with a cooling effect that they describe as “more than twice as effective as those of the sweatiest beasts in the animal kingdom” – aka, me at the end of a marathon.
Considering there are many other ways of cooling metal (like not surrounding it in rubber in the first place) this whole approach might just seem like a rather creepy way for science to further scare us about how lifelike robots can be, but give the usefulness of having robots feature a soft touch for more delicate tasks with this rubber, the ability to cool itself is pretty useful. I guess the robot apocalypse will still be happening as we imagined, just with a little more sweat along the way.
Last Updated: February 4, 2020