In April 2018, the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) held a Robotic Materials workshop in Washington, DC. 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. Robotic materials has the potential to constitute a new material age in which man-made materials that mimic the complexity of biological tissue that includes muscles, nerves, and vascular systems become common place.
The workshop report has been published here. From the report:
The trend of materials becoming systems that integrates sensing, actuation or computation already exists, both in industry and government agencies. At the same time, robotics and artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly aware of the role of embodiment and mechanism design. Yet, the hurdles for the level of interdisciplinary collaboration that are needed are too high for truly transformative developments to happen by accident. Rather, government institutions and researchers alike should seek to push for new initiatives that require truly interdisciplinary teams with computation a required component. At the same time, researchers should seek to push the boundaries of existing programs that address the foundations of robotic materials by adding computational elements. Here, it is important to equally consider the two dominant schools of thought, those who wish to add computation by increasing material complexity, and those that wish to hope to arrive at smart materials by means of miniaturizing artificial cellular structures.
Read the full report to see all the recommendation and to learn more.
Also, this week, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced their Designing Materials to Revolutionize and Engineer our Future (DMREF) program solicitation, which specifically calls out robotic materials.
From the DMREF solicitation:
While this solicitation is not restricted to any particular materials research topic, those of particular interest in this FY2019 solicitation include: 1) Synthetic materials biology, 2) Structural materials under extreme conditions, 3) Recyclable plastics and alternative materials for sustainable development, and 4) Robotic materials.
DMREF highlights four sets of goals:
- Leading a culture shift in materials science and engineering research to encourage and facilitate an integrated team approach;
- Integrating experimentation, computation, and theory and equipping the materials science and engineering communities with advanced tools and techniques;
- Making digital data accessible, findable, and useful to the community; and
- Creating a world-class materials science and engineering workforce that is trained for careers in academia or industry.
All DMREF awards will be four years in duration. Awards are expected to range from $1,000,000 to $1,750,000. The submission window dates are January 28, 2019 – February 04, 2019. See the full solicitation here.