Gumby-bot wriggles from Harvard University labs

Flexible, soft robot can maneuver into spaces too tight for hard-bodied cousins

Harvard University researchers have demonstrated a flexible new soft robot that borrows from the movements of squid, worms and other creatures to maneuver through tight spaces. The 5-inch robot is less susceptible to falls or smashing into things than hard-bodied robots, but would be more likely to suffer a puncture. Researchers are still working on how to enable such robots to move without an external power source.

The "multigait soft robot," described in a paper published by team leader George Whitesides and associates, is made from elastomeric polymers. According to the paper, "This robot is quadrupedal; it uses no sensors, only five actuators, and a simple pneumatic valving system that operates at low pressures... A combination of crawling and undulation gaits allowed this robot to navigate a difficult obstacle." (More video and details here)

Harvard also recently released information about packs of tiny robots it has created.

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