Rubbery, crawling robot can traverse snow, fire




Color me a killjoy, but how is traversing -9’C terrain or walking briefly through naked flames at all a benchmark for a robot?

Yeah, okay, it’s a soft, flexible bot, supposedly with the advantage of being able to “jump, slither, and grasp delicate objects”. Except rigid bots can already jump, and could easily be equipped with soft-tipped manipulators for grasping things.

Slithering, I’ll grant you, probably isn’t something most rigid bots could pull off, but when exactly do we need a robot to slither, of all things?

I can understand wanting to find new options for constructing robots, but why the recent focus on entirely flexible designs? Why not simply integrate some of these concepts into rigic designs to form hybrids? I mean, yeah, inflexibility is bad - but then again, so is a complete lack of rigidity. Being a limp jellyfish isn’t much better than being a cumbersome tin can.


Shouldn’t it be green?


Runner-up designs…


Dammit! :no_mouth:



Boston Scientific has that creepy BigDog and the andro-thing, but this team has got the crawling-baby down pat.


Perhaps pushing through tight spaces? If you ever saw an octopus getting out of a box with a hole, that’s an example of advanced mobility that no rigid design can get close to.

When you need to get through e.g. spaces between building rubble, e.g. after an earthquake or a drone bomb hit, a “flexibot” is a better reconnaisance device than anything rigid.

Also, soft robots that rely on flexibility of the material have fewer parts and fewer points of failure, and no bearings that are so eager to suck in dust and other contaminants or corrode or undergo fretting damage (this one even when just stored next to a source of vibrations). Higher resistance to damage is also a plus.

Then, due to the relative simplicity of the moving parts, it is easier to produce the robots by 3d printing from flexible polymer, or even make them en masse by injection moulding.

Then there is the possibility of actuators made of artificial muscles, e.g. electroresponsive gels, being directly integrated into the structure.

Random thought… what about something, e.g. a burn-off wire or a small pyro charge, allowing the robot to give up a limb? Then it can sacrifice its part in order to get itself unstuck, trading some capabilities for ability to achieve the mission objective.

Another random thought… If the flexible air “muscles” are printed as an array of thinner tubes, each equipped with its own check valve pair and possibly an ability to seal the air supply (either by individual valves for each tube or tube set, or by “cauterizing” the valve closed, e.g. by melting it together), a “leg” could survive even being shot trough, without total loss of function, only with strength degradation proportional to the number of lost actuator channels. Try that with rigid design, I dare you.


Those are all great ideas, but I thought we were going to have sex with it?


great minds…


Rubbery, crawling robot can traverse snow, fire

It doesn’t look happy about it though…


I’m suing. I’m pretty sure that my buddies’ videos of my naked come hell or high water journeys home from the pub served as their inspiration… Though, I am quite impressed – the robot is much more efficient than me.


Of course, that too! These days I am a bit slow…

Air may be too squishy for this, in certain applications, so hydraulic variant may be beneficial. Major redesign would have to be done in the general layout, though the valves and the principle can stay. All and all, would not be entirely trivial changes but nothing outside of the realm of the shop that made the current version.


They just had to go and make it pink, didn’t they? That thing looks obscene. It looks like a prairie squid. I’ll bet they had to slow it down, because at full speed the pelvic thrusts made Westboro Baptist Church come running.


Pris, the Basic Pleasure Model.


You started out entirely flexible and all slithery. Look how you turned out!


Brought this to mind.


Somebody feed it a cookie.


Tentacled warbots? Tentacled warbots.


Is it weird I find this thing horrifying?