Robots can heal themselves

Our paper featuring self-healing soft robotics was published in Science Robotics, including being on the cover! Seppe Terryn, Joost Brancart, Dirk Lefeber, Guy Van Assche and Bram Vanderborght, “Self-healing soft pneumatic robots”, Science Robotics 16 Aug 2017: Vol. 2, Issue 9, eaan4268 Soft robotics are rapidly gaining importance for applications involving the handling fragile objects or interactions with humans. However, due to the intrinsic softness of the materials employed, they are quite sensitive to small cuts or perforations. In this paper, reversible covalent networks based on the Diels-Alder reaction between furan- and maleimide-functionalised molecules where used to build self-healing robotic actuators. Actuators that were cut or perforated nearly completely regain their properties after healing them with a little heating. Due to the concept of the material, healing repeated damage in the same location is feasible and the material can be recycled. Our work on the development of self-healing polymers and their application was supported by the European Research Council (ERC), Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO), and the Strategic Initiative Materials in Flanders (SIM)”