Years of evolution got something right. Scientists at the University of Tokyo found that, in trying to keep their humanoid robot cool, the most effective way to avoid overheating was to make it sweat. Kengoro is made up of 108 motors, with a frame laser sintered from aluminum, and researchers found that making the robot sweat was an effective cooling system for a bot filled to the brim with bolts. Even with the space-saving technique, the bot weighs 123 pounds and stands 5 feet 7 inches tall.
“Usually the frame of a robot is only used to support forces,” lead author Toyotaka Kozuki told IEEE Spectrum in an interview published Friday. “Our concept was adding more functions to the frame, using it to transfer water, release heat, and at the same time support forces.”
The water doesn’t just gush out, though. A porous layer allows water to seep out and cool the motors through evaporation. This allows him to do push ups for 11 minutes straight without burning out the motors. And yes, just like people, Kengoro needs to take water, although he only needs a cup of deionized water every half a day to keep himself going. Delicious!
It sounds great, but where’s the line? We’ve already seen athletic robots that can beat their creators at soccer, while the World Future Sports Games wants to pit bot against bot in Dubai December 2017. Perhaps all this is leading to a team of sweating droids, battling it out in futuristic stadiums, replacing human athletes as the prominent sportspeople. Considering Robot Wars remains a niche British show compared to the Olympics, though, that future is probably a long way off.
Watch the robot feel the burn here:
Photos via IEEE Spectrum/YouTube