(Video) ChemBot: The Military’s Shape Shifting Robot Blob
Share October 19, 2009
iRobot, the makers of the Roomba, have released footage of their bizarre new robot prototype, Chembot. It’s a is a small mobile device being developed for DARPA and the United States Army which looks like a gelatinous blob, and can change shape to navigate through tight spaces. The Chembot will eventually be used in intelligence gathering and search and rescue missions.
CNET explains how it works:
It gets around by way of a process called “jamming,” in which material can transition between semiliquid and solid states with only a slight change in volume.
In ChemBot’s case, a flexible silicone skin encapsulates a series of pockets containing a mix of air and loosely packed particles. When air is removed from the compartments, the skin attempts to equalize the pressure differential by constricting the particles, which shift slightly to fill the void left by the evacuated air.