Sun. Sep 24th, 2023
    A Shape-Shifting Robot Designed to Assist First Responders on Earth

    A squishy and lightweight robot with advanced sensors is being developed to assist with scientific exploration on the moon or Mars. While its primary purpose is for extraterrestrial missions, this shape-shifting robot is also proving to be valuable for first responders on Earth.

    The spherical device is able to remotely assess hazards and plan approaches for responders before they enter disaster-stricken areas such as wildfires, chemical spills, and crashes. The robot, designed by Squishy Robotics, weighs less than 3 pounds and can be attached to commercially available drones. It has been successfully deployed in real-life scenarios, including monitoring air quality during a train derailment in Florida’s Manatee County.

    The robot’s unique structure, known as tensegrity, allows it to withstand impact forces and protect its sensors. In tests, the robot was air-dropped from an airplane 1,000 feet above the ground and survived with its hardware intact. It also endured an intentional explosion in a testing chamber while continuing to function and transmit data.

    The potential applications for this versatile robot extend beyond disaster response. NASA originally funded the research to develop a robot that could gather data and perform scientific operations in harsh environments on the moon or Mars. The ability to drop the robot from orbit eliminates the need for complex landing systems, making future space missions more cost-effective.

    This shape-shifting robot holds great promise for both space exploration and enhancing response capabilities on Earth. By combining lightweight design, complex sensors, and impact resilience, it has the potential to save lives and gather critical data in challenging and high-risk environments.

    – Original article: [URL]
    – Squishy Robotics website: [URL]
    – NASA statement: [URL]