A team of Harvard researchers has built a new type of soft flexible robot that is limber enough to wiggle and crawl into tight spaces.
The Harvard team, led by chemist George M. Whitesides, was inspired by animals such as squid and starfish that lack hard skeletons.
The Gumby-like robot is made from a flexible elastomer material that allows it to squeeze into spaces that are inaccessible for more traditional robots. Inside are chambers that inflate like balloons to enable motion.
Robots that can maneuver in this way could be particularly useful after a disaster like an earthquake, with rescuers able to send them through small cracks.