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Behold, the latest and greatest invention… robot pants

By: Austin Fang

Recently, scientists have begun to experiment with robot clothes, and as technology continues to grow and develop, this type of clothing might be what we wear in the next 50 years.

The idea for robotic clothes all began with the movie Wallace and Gromit where a pair of pants allows people to defy gravity. People began to take inspiration, dreaming about robotic clothing that will take robotics to the next level.

Companies are taking this fantasy into reality. Recently, Google has been collaborating with brands such as Levi’s, Yves Saint Laurent, and Adidas to add sensors into jackets, t-shirts, pants, and shoes.

At the University of South Wales in Australia, they are inventing shape-shifting fabrics. To do this, they create small tubes inside the soft material "These tubes, triggered by electronic or thermal stimulation, can make fabric take various preprogrammed shapes." said Verma.

These robotic clothes have fibers than can move and automate on their own, and they use smart gels as batteries for the electronics.

"In a sign that the technology is approaching maturity, the intelligence community announced in July it’s looking to develop smart clothes for soldiers and spies," stated Pranshu Verma, a journalist for Washington Post. “Researchers said their work is at a turning point, and could soon unlock an era where clothing will act more like a computer, sensing how your body feels and telling your clothes how to help.”

Unfortunately, there are many challenges in making robotic clothes. One of them, obviously, is actually making the product. They need the diameter of the tubes to be 0.1 mm, the diameter of a sharp needle.

Another big challenge is in the designs. “What could this fabric look like?” said Yoel Fink, a science professor at MIT. According to him, it should “look exactly, feel exactly, wear exactly, wash exactly like the fabric you’re wearing right now.”

Although this robotic clothing might be a long way to go, scientists still dream about the possibilities that the technology can accomplish.

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