Robotic Materials

by   Nikolaus Correll, et al.

The Computing Community Consortium (CCC) sponsored a workshop on "Robotic Materials" in Washington, DC, that was held from April 23-24, 2018. This workshop was the second in a series of interdisciplinary workshops aimed at transforming our notion of materials to become "robotic", that is have the ability to sense and impact their environment. Results of the first workshop held from March 10-12, 2017, at the University of Colorado have been summarized in a visioning paper (Correll, 2017) and have identified the key technological challenges of "Robotic Materials", namely the ability to create smart functionality with a minimum of additional wiring by relying on wireless power and communication. The goal of this second workshop was to turn these findings into recommendations for government action. Computation will become an important part of future material systems and will allow materials to analyze, change, store and communicate state in ways that are not possible using mechanical or chemical processes alone. What "computation" is and what is possibilities are, is unclear to most material scientists, while computer scientists are largely unaware of recent advances in so-called active and smart materials. This gap is currently shrinking, with computer scientists embracing neural networks and material scientists actively researching novel substrates such as memristors and other neuromorphic computing devices. Further pursuing these ideas will require an emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration between chemists, engineers, and computer scientists, possibly elevating humankind to a new material age that is similarly disruptive as the leap from the stone to the plastic age.


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