ROBOT SURVIVES FIRE, SNOW AND BEING RUN OVER
Harvard Team Create Soft Body Robot That Is Very Resilient
A research team at Harvard University has been testing a soft body robot it created that is capable of withstanding fire, freezing cold temperatures and even been run over with a car. As you can see in the video the robot is made of a rubbery like material that is squishy and can bend and contort into different shapes. Research team leader Michael Tolley believes this type of robot could have important applications in search and rescue situations, where a flexible body can move through tight spaces, such as a collapsed building. The soft body robot’s ability to resist fire, withstand pressure and freezing temperatures would also be useful in disaster zones. This is merely the beginning, in the future the team envisage a robot that can jump, walk upright on feet and slither around, while also being able to clutch delicate objects.
At this stage the robot’s electrical components remain exposed, but a future version could come with embedded electronics. Its battery pack lasts for up to two hours and its forward shuffle-like movement is driven by an electrically powered air compressor. At times the shuffling motion appears almost cinematic like a shell shocked soldier dragging their way back to safety. Academics working in this area of robotics such as Cecilia Laschi of the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, are impressed by the advancements made by the Harvard team, she says “This is a good example of how soft robotics can help build very robust devices, with very low risk of damage.”