I'll be back! Scientists invent robot that can melt and escape cage like terrifying Terminator 2 villain the T-1000

26 January 2023, 15:15 | Updated: 26 January 2023, 15:20

Robot escapes cage by liquifying and reforming in study

By Will Taylor

Scientists have invoked many film fans' worst nightmares and created a miniature robot that can pass through metal bars by melting and reshaping itself just like the villain from Terminator 2.

The blockbuster sequel sees Arnold Schwarzenegger take on a T-1000, an evil killer machine that could shape itself into the shape of a human or transform into a puddle of liquid to evade obstacles.

Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh have managed to make their own miniature version by enriching gallium – which melts at 30.6C – with magnetic particles.

Shaped like a small humanoid and placed in a cage, the figure was exposed to an alternating magnetic field.

That increased its temperature, allowing it to melt into a puddle outside of the cage, passing through its bars, before it reformed and cooled down after the magnetic field was disabled.

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It managed to rebuild within 80 seconds of it being turned off.

It is a breakthrough in the physical abilities of robots, which previously needed electrical currents, heat guns or some kind of external heat source to change states between solid and liquid.

The T-1000 is able to get through metal bars by turning into a liquid
The T-1000 is able to get through metal bars by turning into a liquid. Picture: Alamy

For many it will invoke memories of the T-1000, which in a famous scene gets trapped behind metal bars as the Terminator 2 heroes believe they have escaped it.

However, it melts into a liquid before reforming on the other side. It is even able to shape its arms into long blades or crowbar-style shapes.

Fortunately, the scientists behind it have more noble ideas in mind.

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The T-1000 can shapeshift
The T-1000 can shapeshift. Picture: Alamy

Chengfeng Pan, an engineer from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who led the study, said: "Now, we're pushing this material system in more practical ways to solve some very specific medical and engineering problems."

Carmel Majidi, a senior author and mechanical engineer at Carnegie Mellon, said: "Future work should further explore how these robots could be used within a biomedical context.

"What we're showing are just one-off demonstrations, proofs of concept, but much more study will be required to delve into how this could actually be used for drug delivery or for removing foreign objects."

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