A research team led by NASA Ames and the University of California, Berkeley is designing new shape-shifting robots that could make traditional robots on wheels a thing of the past. Mechanical engineering professor Alice Agogino says that these robots are based on tensegrity structures that allow them to compress and easily maneuver around rough environments. This makes them ideal for not only space exploration, but also Earth-based applications.
"These might be used for home health care because a lot of people live in a very cluttered, messy home with stairs. And we see that search-and-rescue has a lot of potential of being able to drop a tensegrity robot on Planet Earth and then have it walk away and try to find some kind of target, or deliver a payload of supplies for refugees, or something else."
Agogino says that tensegrity robots are also safer.
"These are soft robots that wouldn't injure the person they're trying to help as well."
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