iRobot, makers of the Roomba sweeper and Packbot military robots, has just prototyped this squashy bot that can squeeze through tiny holes. They call it Chembot, for chemical robot. Now they've released a video of Chembot moving.

IEEE has posted this cool video explaining the bot, and showing how it moved about a year ago. Newer prototypes include sensors and better range of motion.


IEEE writes:

Researchers from iRobot and the University of Chicago discussed their palm-sized soft robot, known as a chemical robot, or chembot, at IROS yesterday. It's "the first demonstration of a completely soft, mobile robot using jamming as an enabling technology," they write in a paper.

The concept of "jamming skin enabled locomotion" is explained quite nicely in the video. The polymer used for the bot's stretchy skin is off-the-shelf silicon two-part rubber.

By controlling the parts of the blob that "inflate," the researchers can make it roll.


When I see this, all I think is that it's the prototype of a robotic tentacle arm.

via IEEE