The Early Bird

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Researchers have developed a soft autonomous robot that can crawl like an an earthworm — even after being subjected to hammer blows.

The breakthrough came with the development of an artificial muscle composed of a mesh made from a shape-memory alloy.

By applying electrical current, the mesh contracts and expands, allowing the robot to crawl.

With funding from Darpa, the US defence research agency, these biomimetic robots could eventually see action in the battlefield.

They certainly resemble the Cybermats used by the villainous Cybermen in Doctor Who.

From MIT:

As an ultimate test of soft robotics, the group subjected the robot to multiple blows with a hammer, even stepping on the robot to check its durability. Despite the violent impacts, the robot survived, crawling away intact.

“You can throw it, and it won’t collapse,” Kim says. “Most mechanical parts are rigid and fragile at small scale, but the parts in Meshworms are all fibrous and flexible. The muscles are soft, and the body is soft … we’re starting to show some body-morphing capability.”


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