Squishy Crawling Robot is Here to Help, Not Enslave, Us

Ever wonder why so many robots are humanoid-shaped? Why, just last week we were asking “Why can’t more robots be like creepy crawling invertebrates?” Harvard University researchers answered us with their squishy pneumatic robot that was inspired by creeping creatures like worms and sea stars. Powered by a low-pressure air pump (under 10 PSI), five actuators in the body move it forward in a crawling motion.

The result is way creepy, which is why we’re glad that it moves so slowly. It only covers about 3.6mm per second, meaning that any human should be able to outrun it easily. It’s squishy and flexible, making it able to crawl into and under very tight spaces. Soft-bodied, ground-hugging robots like this one could be useful for future search-and-rescue missions where traditional robots wouldn’t be able to fit.

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See more in Robotics or under Technology. December, 2011.