First we kick them, then we give them the tools they need to destroy all of humanity. Good job, us.

Scientists in China have invented a liquid metal that can shape-shift and propel itself around a course all by itself. 

Made from a metal alloy containing mostly gallium - a metal that melts down to liquid form at just below 30 degrees Celsius - the world's "first self-fuelled liquid metal motor" can get about an hour's worth of movement out of a single flake of aluminium.

As Michael Slezak writes for New Scientist, the metal is placed in a solution sodium hydroxide - a less fancy version even works on plain old brine - and is 'fed' an aluminium flake, which merges with the metal. The reaction caused by the merge produces bubbles, and these create a 'flow field' that push the metal along the twists and turns of a specially made track. 

The aluminium reaction also allows the metal to condense and morph into different shapes to fit through the narrow corners and tight openings of the track. Pop an electrical current in there and you'll get even stranger shapes until you turn the current off, and the metal instantly returns to its droplet form.

"The soft machine looks rather intelligent and [can] deform itself according to the space it voyages in, just like [the] Terminator does from the science-fiction film," one of the team, Jing Liu from Tsinghua University in Beijing, told Slezak. "These unusual behaviours perfectly resemble the living organisms in nature."

Brb, just weaving an "I heart robots" banner to strap to my roof. Just, you know, in case.

Source: New Scientist