Harvard’s fleshy ‘soft robot’ can survive ice, flames, impact and keep going
Researchers at Harvard University have created a “soft robot” that is impervious to extreme heat and cold and can survive certain types of heavy impact while continuing to move.
“We’re looking at the first untethered soft robot that is able to move around without rigid, structural components,” said Mike Tolley in the video below. Tolley is one of the team members who helped create the robot. “It turns out that the whole system operates very well at low or high temperatures.”
Designers studied how soft animals like jellyfish and one-celled organisms move in order to make the robot mobile. Its silicone rubber exterior protects the components inside from damage, enabling robots like this one to go where human beings can’t.
“They’re very naturally robust to challenges that a robot might face,” Tolley said. “We took this guy out in basically a winter snowstorm here in New England and it turns out whole system works quite well at either low or high temperatures.”
Tolley he said that he can see these types of robots being modified for search and rescue or in situations like the flooded nuclear reactors at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant or in situations like a building collapse, “all sorts of conditions that you wouldn’t want to send a human in for.”
Watch video about this story, embedded below: