An interesting article by Evan Ackerman over at IEEE Spectrum, shows you that popcorn is a cheap, biodegradable way to actuate a robot (once).
He quotes Steven Ceron:
Popcorn kernels are a natural, edible, and inexpensive material that has the potential to rapidly expand with high force upon application of heat. Although this transition is irreversible, it carries potential for several robotic applications. As kernels can change from regular to (larger) irregular shapes, we examine the change in inter-granular friction and propose their use as granular fluids in jamming actuators, without the need for a vacuum pump. Furthermore, as a proof-of-concept, we also demonstrate the use of popcorn-driven actuation in soft, compliant, and rigidlink grippers. Serving as a first introduction of popcorn into robotics, we hope this paper will inspire novel mechanisms for multi-functional designs.
Read the full article on IEEE Spectrum which takes from the paper “Popcorn-Driven Robotic Actuators,” by Steven Ceron, Aleena Kurumunda, Eashan Garg, Mira Kim, Tosin Yeku, and Kirstin Petersen from Cornell University, which was presented at ICRA 2018 in Brisbane, Australia.
Do you have interesting ways to move robots? Let us know in the comments below!