The first liquid robot in history is Italian: it is called Cogitor and is inspired by the cells of living beings. The project began last June 1st and will last 4 years, and is funded by the European Union together with other institutions. The consortium of financiers is composed primarily of the Italian Institute of Technology, which is also the coordinator of the entire project. Next we find the University of West England, Bristol, the EMPA – the Federal Laboratory for Materials Testing and Research, PlasmaChem, a company that deals with the development and production of nanomaterials , and Ciaotech Srl, the Italian branch of the PNO group, European consultancy firm for access to public funding.
Cogitor, the liquid robot
2021 seems to be the year of robots. After the humanoid robot announced by Elon Musk and the success of Atlas by Boston Dynamics, it is the turn of an all-Italian automaton. Cogitor is the first liquid robot and is inspired by cells, both in form and function. The pivot of the project is the so-called Colloidal Cybernetic System , that is a system made up of a multi-functional liquid able to manage data, perform computations, recover energy autonomously and perceive the surface pressure .
The "liquid heart" of Cogitor acts as a set of passive transistors that can assume two different states. A central processor is responsible for sending commands to the transistor-molecules, which will modify their combination as needed. This means that the robot will be able to change its physical structure and alter its surface and internal temperature , so as to adapt to the environment in which it is located.
Cogitor will allow to deepen the most interesting aspects of living systems, such as adaptive intelligence, autonomy and the ability to self-regenerate. The robot will in fact be able to react to shocks or damage, as well as to recover energy by exploiting specific chemical processes that use the energy of the surrounding environment ( energy harvesting ). Cogitor will be able to perform various tasks, collecting useful information on the place where it is and carrying out precise calculations and analyzes. In the future of the liquid robot there is also the exploration of gaseous planets such as Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, where the pressure is prohibitive for humans.
The Italian Institute of Technology will be the heart of the project and point of reference for the development of this latest step forward in the world of robots. Soft-robotics could soon become obsolete and give way to a new and revolutionary field of robotics studies.
Cogitor and liquid robotics
With Cogitor a new approach to cybernetics begins and the branch of liquid robotics is finally launched. In 2017 Alessandro Chiolerio had published a research on this topic, anticipating the new liquid robot. The capabilities of these new machines are groundbreaking and capable of penetrating places where normal robots have a hard time working. Among the fields of application there are, for example, post-disaster research (for example after an earthquake), in which you have to face rough terrain and ravines that are difficult to explore. A fluid robot is able to adapt its shape and enter new , yet unexplored places .
Robots or anthropomorphs require an enormous use of resources. Walking on two legs is very complicated for a machine, like having our manual skills. You need computing power and a lot of energy. Better to draw inspiration from other aspects of nature, according to the task that the robot has to perform.
Alessandro Chiolerio, researcher in charge of the project.
The "smart fluid" can also reconfigure itself to protect itself from extreme temperatures or radiation, and could also be used for medical applications, particularly in vivo . This type of analysis takes place in living organisms (as opposed to in vitro ) and is the most effective for the study of metabolic processes and diseases. Cogitor and all future liquid robots could be decisive for medical research , also managing to intelligently convey drugs in the human body.
The article Cogitor, the first all-Italian liquid robot inspired by the cell comes from Tech CuE | Close-up Engineering .