In today’s world, everything is slowly advancing towards automation so there is no doubt that one day in the near future we would have robots doing everything for us, maybe even chores. But to perform all these tasks, robots need to be constructed more reliably, not only in the sense of technology but also in the sense of functioning capacity or in other words; a bigger battery is required.
A robot is a machine that obeys instructions fed into it, while on the front it may seem very easy that a robot obliges to your commands but in the back end, complex algorithms and sophisticated programming is operating the machine. To function effectively and efficiently, a reliable battery is crucial.
And that is exactly the scientists’ concern at the University of Michigan. They believe that by just redesigning the robot’s exterior, a better battery life can be obtained. To understand how that is possible we to look at how human bodies in contrast store energy. We humans do not need to carry large batteries with us throughout the day to keep us energized and get us through the tasks of the day. Instead we store energy in fats throughout our body. And when we do something challenging or exhausting, we derive energy required to complete the task, from the fats and then restore it through our diet.
But robots cannot do that, so they only derive energy from the batteries capacity of which can be limited depending on the size of the battery or the placement location on the robot.
The scientists at the University of Michigan suggest that robotic performance can be increased tenfold by redistributing the batteries location throughout the exterior. Nearly 20% of a robot’s design is occupied by batteries. However, by mimicking the human energy derivation from fat from all over the body, placing batteries in different parts of the robot’s exterior can not only save space and allow it to be used for other purposes, but also allow the robot itself to operate more efficiently. How much more efficient exactly? Nearly 72 times.
Furthermore, scientists suggest that such a large efficiency is possible by replacing lithium-ion batteries with zinc batteries. However, there is only one drawback, zinc batteries only retain high capacity until 100 charge cycles. To compensate for that, zinc batteries are not only cheaper, but also easier to replace as compared to lithium-ion batteries. Similarly, zinc batteries apart from being efficient are also eco-friendly. The battery is designed in a way that it passes ions between a zinc electrode and air through a membrane. All the essential components of a zinc battery are non-toxic in nature. Therefore, zinc batteries are not only eco-friendly but also recyclable, and could be the answer to longer lasting robot batteries.