Robotics at the University of Linz (Austria) under the leadership of Martin Kaltenbrunner found a new use for soft robots… making them edible. Simulating real organisms, they can, for example, to deliver drugs to animals.

Kaltenbrunner and his colleagues have created a Biogel of safe food ingredients (in particular, gelatin and citric acid), which is fully absorbed by the body and stops the growth of bacteria. It also added the glycerin, the gel gives softness and prevent drying.

Biogel is food for bacteria commonly found in wastewater. Eventually he collapses in a natural way, for example, once in a landfill, and being in normal conditions, remains in a stable condition. During laboratory tests, the researchers found that the gel does not dry out and loses its original properties over a year.

Subsequently, the gel was made by a robot imitating an elephant’s trunk, which has withstood more than 330,000 continuously recurring movement without drying out and cracking.

Scientists have also integrated it with sensors to provide feedback and control. Another robot from the gel in the form of an elephant, they added the pressure gauge that allowed him to capture with the trunk of various objects.

Since gelatin is edible, made from it the robots can be used as food (prey) for animals, which in their body will be administered the necessary medicines. It can also be used for the manufacture of safe toys. Alas, it still remains an unsolved problem of the creation of “edible” electronic systems for such robots.
Source — Nature Materials