The robot can squeeze through even the smallest of gaps. Image Credit: YouTube / Stanford University
Stanford University researchers have built a robot that can literally worm its way around anything.
Made from polyethylene, the device is capable of squeezing through tiny gaps, snaking up around tall objects and circumnavigating tiny spaces that would normally be impossible to traverse.
Its length can grow from as little as 28cm to as long as 72 meters and it is capable of changing direction at any time by pumping air through its internal chambers.
It can move at speeds of up to 22mph and can even lift up heavy objects by expanding underneath.
"Across kingdoms and length scales, certain cells and organisms navigate their environments not through locomotion but through growth," the team wrote.
"We report a class of soft pneumatic robot that is capable of a basic form of this behavior, growing substantially in length from the tip while actively controlling direction using onboard sensing of environmental stimuli."
The scientists believe that the device could prove beneficial in a wide variety of applications from threading cables between walls to seeking out victims trapped in rubble after an earthquake.