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Finally, a Robot You Can Run Over in Your Car

Humanity asks: What could possibly go wrong?

Courtesy: Cornell University

Researchers at Harvard and Cornell have designed a robot that can withstand fire, water and the business side of a Subaru, offering levels of resiliency that couldn’t possibly ever come back to bite humanity.

The thing is not pretty. It crawls around with all the grace of your grandfather trying to do “the worm” and looks like a mutant echinoderm that fell a few arms short of a starfish.

That’s actually not by accident. The machine fits into an emerging category known as “soft robots,” modeled on animals with nonrigid body parts like the starfish or squid. It’s made primarily out of silicone rubber and powered pneumatically, meaning it’s operated using pressurized gas.

The researchers believe the robot could be used for search-and-rescue operations in the aftermath of disasters like earthquakes, floods or nuclear meltdowns (and definitely not to one day enslave the human race).

The study will be published in the journal Soft Robotics, though an early version can be found online here.

Check out the video below, where researchers try to drown, drive over and BBQ the thing and it … just … keeps … coming.

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