Looks like iRobot is determined to bring Judgment Day upon us. First with the military bots, and now they’re trying to build a liquid-metal-shape-shifting robot that will surely ask us if we are John or Sarah Connor. Okay, not quite, but it looks like they’re headed in that direction.
This week at IROS 09 (Intelligent Robots and Systems), iRobot and the University of Chicago unveiled a soft, blobby robot that looks something like an inflating marshmallow.
The new robot, called chembot, changes the shape of its stretchy polymer skin using a technique called “jamming skin enabled locomotion”. This means that different sections of the robot inflate or deflate separately; controlling this inflation and deflation enables the robot to move. DARPA, which is funding the project, hopes to use the robot to squeeze into small holes or under doors, which I’m guessing would be used for sophisticated surveillance.