The cockroach is a deeply unlovable member of the animal kingdom. Not only are these nocturnal pests nearly indestructible, they're also known to spread diseases like dysentery, plague, and leprosy. Anyone who has lived in a cockroach-infested apartment knows how hard they can be to kill.
But as this video from Science shows, cockroaches' sheer tenacity is why they're worth studying:
The cockroach's back shell is both rigid and flexible — it can compress down to a third of its height and can withstand up to 900 times the cockroach's bodyweight. The flexibility allows the insect to fit through just about every crack and crevice in your home.
The researchers wanted to see if they could replicate the cockroach's ability in a robot. They managed to build such a bot that, like a roach, can be compressed to half its size and can crawl under very tight space. Their findings were recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
This robot could one day be used to locate victims in collapsed homes or other tightly confined spaces. It's called CRAM (compressible robot with articulated mechanisms), and I'd much rather live in an apartment filled with them.