This robot changes color like a chameleon to blend in with its environment

In South Korea, researchers recently developed a new robot that can mimic. It is indeed a robotic chameleon that can change color to blend in with its environment. Scientists have already come up with some uses for their creation, especially in the military field.

A heat-based device

Chameleons are reptiles that can catch their prey at a distance thanks to their stretchy and adhesive tongue. Their eyes have independent mobility. However, the main characteristic of chameleons is none other than their amazing ability to change color camouflage in any environment. Recently, however, researchers from the mechanical engineering department of Seoul National University (South Korea) have been inspired by the technique of camouflage of chameleons. Their publication in the journal Nature Communications on August 10, 2021 describes the how a chameleon robot works not published.

Scientists remembered that chameleons could change color thanks to the contraction of muscles under their skin, working on nanocrystals. They also reported that they have already created a coating with similar properties when bent or stretched. Yet this time it is about a completely different track use heat.

“Developing artificial camouflage at the level of a complete device remains a very difficult task, especially with the aim of achieving more advanced and natural camouflage features through high-resolution camouflage patterns” we can read in the publication.

camouflage chameleon robot
Credit: Seoul National University/Nature Communications

This robot chameleon can change color in real time

This robot chameleon is a soft robot equipped with a kind of skin in which a thermochromic liquid crystal layer. This same layer is located above a structure that contains several layers of silver nanowires, which act as heating elements. The structure in question thus makes it possible to change color, but also to create patterns to optimize camouflage. Different sensors come to equip the robot chameleon to detect the colors of the environment. They are connected to a microcontroller whose mission is to convert color into temperature. This allows the machine change color in real time.

The robot chameleon is for now cannot generate patterns automatically. On the other hand, it is one of the next objectives of the scientists who estimate that their innovation could be used for a military purpose (camouflage). However, this robot could also have applications in the fields of art, architecture and fashion.