The palm-sized amorphous Chembot is the latest disarmingly cute military robot from iRobot. This little ball of cutting-edge technology—funded with $3.3 million from DARPA—debuted this week, and man, this is one bizarre robot. From Popular Science:
The bot, which was shown off at the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems this week, has a silicone skin, and moves by selectively inflating and deflating parts of its spherical body. But the locomotion system entails more than simple puffing and rolling: The video [see below] explains the "particle jamming" system of locomotion, "a mechanism by which material can transition from a liquid-like to a solid-like state."
(According to IEEE, the video below is a little dated, but it's still a good primer on "jamming." The cool stuff starts at around 1:50.) Related Content: Discoblog: Tiny Jumping Robot Can Find Enemies, Scale Fences Discoblog Gallery: Disarmingly Cute: 8 Military Robots That Spy, Fly, and Do Yoga Discoblog: While Military Spends Millions, Two Guys Make Puke-Ray Gun on the Cheap
Video: YouTube / spectrummag