Menu
No batteries needed! Future robots may run on urine

No batteries needed! Future robots may run on urine

British researchers focus on bio power to create self-sustaining robots

Scientists have found a way to power future robots using an unusual source - urine.

Researchers at the University of the West of England, Bristol and the University of Bristol worked together to build a system that will enable robots to function without batteries or being plugged into an electrical outlet.

Based on the functioning of the human heart, the system is designed to pump urine into the robot's "engine room," converting the waste into electricity and enabling the robot to function completely on its own.

Scientists are hoping the system, which can hold 24.5 ml of urine, could be used to power future generations of robots, or what they're calling EcoBots.

"In the city environment, they could re-charge using urine from urinals in public lavatories," said Peter Walters, a researcher with the University of the West of England. "In rural environments, liquid waste effluent could be collected from farms."

In the past 10 years, researchers have built four generations of EcoBots, each able to use microorganisms to digest the waste material and generate electricity from it, the university said.

Along with using human and animal urine, the robotic system also can create power by using rotten fruit and vegetables, dead flies, waste water and sludge.

Ioannis Ieropoulos, a scientist with the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, explained that the microorganisms work inside microbial fuel cells where they metabolize the organics, converting them into carbon dioxide and electricity.

Like the human heart, the robotic system works by using artificial muscles that compress a soft area in the center of the device, forcing fluid to be expelled through an outlet and delivered to the fuel cells. The artificial muscles then relax and go through the process again for the next cycle.

"The artificial heartbeat is mechanically simpler than a conventional electric motor-driven pump by virtue of the fact that it employs artificial muscle fibers to create the pumping action, rather than an electric motor, which is by comparison a more complex mechanical assembly," Walter said.

Read more about emerging technologies in Computerworld's Emerging Technologies Topic Center.

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags hardwareUniversity of the West of EnglandEmerging Technologieshardware systems

Slideshows

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Reseller News looks back on a tumultuous 12 months for the New Zealand channel, assessing the fallout from a year of sizeable industry change. Whether it be local or global mergers and acquisitions, distribution deals or job changes, the channel that started the year differs somewhat to the one set to finish it - Reseller News assesses the key moments that made 2016.​

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016
​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

Hewlett Packard Enterprise honoured its top performing Kiwi partners at the second running of its HPE Partner Awards in New Zealand, held at a glitzy ceremony in Auckland. Recognising excellence across eight categories - from distributors to resellers - the tech giant celebrated its first year as a standalone company, following its official split from HP in 2015.

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel
Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix recently took to the seas for a Christmas Cruise around Sydney Harbour with its Australia and New Zealand staff, customers and partners to celebrate a stellar year for the vendor. With the sun out, they were all smiles and mingled over drinks and food.

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise
Show Comments