Penn Engineering researchers have introduced a "metal-air scavenger" vehicle, which gets energy not from a battery, but from breaking chemical bonds in the aluminum surface it travels over. The technology, which works like both a battery and an energy harvester, has 13 times more energy density than lithium-ion batteries.

A futuristic-sounding idea: With a metal-air scavenger, robots could someday power themselves by seeking out and "eating" metal, breaking down its chemical bonds for energy.

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