A flexible, rubber-like robot that can operate in sub-zero temperatures, walk through fire, and withstand being run over by a car has been created by American researchers. The team, from Cornell and Harvard universities, believe their design will help create the next generation of robots for use in search and rescue missions. Jim Drury reports.
This robot is certainly durable. It can also operate in extreme conditions - something its designers hope will help inspire future soft robots for use in search and rescue missions. Made of various materials and composites including silicone elastomer, it has no rigid skeleton, and can crawl into tight spots. Pneumatically powered by an electrical air compression system, in its current format its battery lets it move for up to two hours. Its creators at Cornell and Harvard universities say it's the first soft robot to work unattached outside a laboratory setting. The team, led by Harvard's Michael Tolley, plan to embed its currently exposed electronics inside the 65 centimetre long wriggler, as well as adding feet and improving its speed. The future of robotics may yet have a softer side.