However stinky the result, you should thank your ability to sweat on a hot day—without it, your body would struggle to keep up with the heat. Unfortunately, most robots haven’t had similarly efficient cooling systems—until now.
Taking inspiration from sweaty humans, researchers created just such a system for a soft robotic gripper, using a 3D printer to create an internal reservoir for liquid and add small pores on its surface. The outer layer of the fingerlike gripper expanded when the temperature increased, causing the pores to dilate and vent the fluid (above).
As the fluid—in this case, water—evaporated, the gripper cooled down. What’s more, when exposed to wind from a fan, the sweaty bot lost heat six times faster than nonsweating robots—and even surpassed the cooling capacity of humans, researchers report today in Science Robotics. The new system doesn’t stink—yet—but it could if scientists follow up on a plan to one day add pheromones to the mix.