Date:17 October 2016
A group of Japanese researchers have managed to build a robot that can do a whole bunch of pushups – by sweating like a human. The robot sweats with assistance from a unique cooling mechanism that evaporates water to cool its motors.
By Avery Thompson
The researchers, from the University of Tokyo’s JSK lab, built a humanoid robot called Kengoro that can move in pretty much all the ways a human can. In order to do that, the robot has over a hundred different motors, which generate a lot of heat.
Most other robots use active cooling, with water pumps, fans, radiators, and heat sinks. But those systems can be rather bulky and eat up a lot of power. Kengoro has too many other components to have room for an active cooling system. So instead, the team decided to build a passive cooling system directly into the robot’s frame.
The team built a water circulation system into Kengoro’s metal skeleton, and allowed the water to seep out around the motors to cool them. This allows the water to evaporate, cooling the robot’s motors. Essentially, Kengoro can sweat.
Sweating is a very effective cooling method. It allows Kengoro to do pushups for 11 minutes straight without overheating. Sweating is more efficient than other passive cooling methods like air cooling and simple water circulation, although it’s less efficient than active cooling. Still, this method is small and lightweight and requires zero power.
Using this method, Kengoro can run for about half a day on a single cup of water. Although this means that the robot can sometimes get a little thirsty.
Watch the video above to see the robot in action.
This article was originally written for and published by Popular Mechanics USA.
Source: Popular Mechanics USA via IEEE Spectrum