This is the strongest robot I've ever seen. It was able to survive a snowstorm, being tossed into flames and being squished by a car and it still lived to tell the tale.
The as-yet-unnamed robot, which was created by a Harvard University researcher named Michael Tolley and his team, has no rigid skeleton. It has a battery pack that can keep it going for over two hours, and its pneumatic motion is powered by an air compressor system.
According to New Scientist:
In experiments, Tolley's robot was able to walk through a snowstorm with temperatures reaching -9 °C, withstand flames for 20 seconds, resist water and acids as well as having its limbs driven over by a car. Since the electrical components of the prototype are exposed, it was only the resilience of the body that was tested. But Tolley claims that embedding the electronics in the soft body could be a quick fix.
What's the point? Like all inflatable robots, this squishy creature is a starting point for research into search and rescue missions, where a flexible body can better navigate through tight spaces. Tolley's team sees this as the beginning of a new generation of soft robots that can jump, slither and grasp delicate objects.
Further improvements down the line will improve the robot's speed and mobility. It will be programmed to respond to obstacles — and it might even get its own, squishy feet one day. [New Scientist]