The robots of the future are sustainable and inspired by nature

The robots of the future are sustainable and inspired by nature

Making machines capable of replicating some of the key characteristics of living organisms, taking energy from the environment, adapting to conditions and being sustainable: these are it living machines Which is me Bioinspired robots which in the future also aims to better integrate the capabilities of artificial intelligence with those it offers New sustainable materials . This is the continuous revolution that emerges from the international conference live machines , organized in Genoa by the Italian Institute of Technology and scheduled until July 13. “The idea of ​​bioinspired robots is to take inspiration from nature to create them Robots that look like living things Barbara Mazolai, associate director of robotics at Iit and director of the Bioinspired Soft Robotics Lab, told ANSA.

The big dream is to come true Machines capable of interacting with the external environment , for example adapting to an unexpected change or event and being able to obtain energy in a sustainable way, for example from air heat. The first steps have been taken in these directions and are an example of this Kind robots that is, machines with bodies that are no longer rigid but flexible like the tentacles of an octopus, or me plants Inspired by plants or me artificial seeds Able to grow by taking advantage of soil moisture. “But there’s still a lot of work to be done, we’re light years away from real-life machines,” said Mazolai, who is coordinating the conference with Fabian Meder, of the Bioinspired Soft Robotics Lab group.

The aim of the 4-day conference is to compare some of the leading experts in the sector, such as Osama Al-Khatib, director of the Robotics Lab at Stanford University, and Marco Dorrigo, from the Free University of Brussels and one of the pioneers of teamwork. Intelligent Olga Speck is from the University of Freiburg and specializes in biomimetic materials and the regenerative capabilities of plants. “Inspiration from nature also means highlighting aspects that have been sorely neglected so far – added Mazzolai – for example, reducing energy consumption or having biodegradable devices.”

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But perhaps the biggest challenge is the integration of body and mind, that is, what can be defined as consciousness: “Robots in recent decades may have given little importance to the body, and the body is also understood as an interface with the external environment rather than as a simple functional solid for purely structural activities,” he said. researcher. Learning – continued – is closely related to cognition and in living beings the body also plays an essential role in the development of intelligence: mind and body are never separated. We are still far from finding a solution to this form of integration. But the key could be precisely in a better understanding, without preconceived notions, of nature itself.

“So far – concluded Mazzolai – we thought we were getting too far from nature, I think Leonardo da Vinci is an inspiration. We should study his texts every day, not so much for his device but for his approach”.

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