Future Technologies for Robotic Applications: Roadless, Print Ink-based Electrical Circuit, and Synaptic Transistor

The amount of new high-tech technologies leading to enhance the future robots with new and advanced features is increasingly high, and three of these new technologies that can open new roads for robots are presented in this article.

Starting with an adjustable wheel, continue with a printing method to create electronic circuits, and finishing with a new type of transistor capable to mimic the behavior of a synapse, we found the opportunity to make the robots smarter, cheaper, and customizable.


Roadless Wheel Impression

Roadless Wheel Impression

Roadless is a wheel system concept designed to be adjusted to different terrain and acting as a continuously variable transmission. The effect of this new system is to simplify the drive train that includes the engine, the clutch, and the variably adjustable wheel.

Even the Roadless was not designed for robotic applications, this system has a great potential in the field. Only if we think that a robot has to work in a variety of conditions and different terrain types, this adjustable wheel system will pass the limitation of the pneumatic tires since it is not filled with air and is based on an adjustable system.

Roadless Prototype Line

Roadless Prototype Line

A robot stuck in sand, mud, or in snow can switch from a narrow tread to a wide tread at a simple turn of a screw, but this will depend on the materials developed to cover the wheel.

The adjustable system is based on a mechanism reminiscent of a scissor jack, a system designed to change the shape of a tread material that is wrapped around on a pair of rod networks attached by an axle.
This system is changed to a small diameter of the tire when the disks on which the rods are mounted are distant from each other. This means that the tread of the wheel must be very flexible to adopt the changing aspect ratio of the wheel.


Constant Wheel Diameter

As an alternative, the system can be customized to form a given wheel diameter by using compliant components.

The enthusiasm covers us when we see for the first time the pictures with the Roadless, but there are features that have to be improved until a mass production.

For example, there is not known the effect of acceleration and deceleration forces, how the torque will be transmitted to the ground, how will be designing the telescopic suspensions to adjust the height when the wheel has an increased diameter, what are the high speed capabilities of the wheel, what is the noise in driving conditions on flat surfaces, etc. The list can continue and we have great expectations for this new system that change what we know so far about the wheels.

New technique to print Ink-based electrical circuit

Printed electronic circuit on a transparent sheet of coated PET film.

Printed electronic circuit on a transparent sheet of coated PET film.

A new method to create electronic circuits was developed by researchers at Georgia Tech, a method that creates the opportunity to develop fast and at an affordable price a fully custom-printed circuit.

The printable circuit method can be applied in a wide range of areas especially for DIY projects or for anyone interested in experimenting different methods for building interactive electronics. The printing method is not new, but this time it comes with improved features especially for a fast printing process.

The printing method is very simple and is based on a desktop printer able to print electronic circuits with silver nanoparticle ink on resin-coated paper, PET film, or glossy photo paper.

The method is fast, very fast. The team that develops the system was able to print a complete ink-based circuit in nearly 60 seconds, which is far away from any other methods of printing circuits.

One bottle with 100 ml of ink has a price of $200 and can cover a surface of 10 square meters.

Once the circuit is printed, it can be connected with components using conductive double-sided tape or silver epoxy adhesive.

This new technology can be also applied to robotic applications and is an opportunity to develop fast and cheap electronic circuits for a wide range of DIY robots.

Synaptic Transistor

The human mind was always a source of inspiration for computer architecture with real capabilities in artificial intelligence. This time scientists team from Harvard SEAS design a new type of transistor capable to mimics in details the behavior of a synapse. The artificial brain can physically adapt to changing signals based on information flow from a circuit. With real capabilities for artificial intelligence, the synaptic transistor opens the road for a new generation of computers that mimics the brain and can run complex algorithms for a new generation of intelligent robots.

Focused on speed, the projects developed so far has a disadvantage, which consists of high energy consumption. A huge impact in cutting down the energy was already solved using this new type of transistors based on a new class of materials. The nickelate material is also a correlated electron system that works as an insulator-metal transition. When the material is exposed to an external field the conductance is under changes.

A high advanced parallel computing system could integrate millions of synaptic transistors and neuron terminals, all of these generating enough power for an ultra-efficient computer.


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