iRobot's ChemBot Blob: JSEL Takes Baby Steps
iRobot has been working on DARPA's ChemBot project, and they've come up with a robot based on jamming skin-enabled locomotion (JSEL). The basic idea is to use a granular material that can change state from a solid to a liquid on command.
Encapsulated by a flexible skin broken up into zones of this jammable slurry, the center of the robot contains an actuator that can change its volume. Unjamming the material in specific zones, combined with changes in the volume of the actuator, results in controlled movement.
Anyway, observe the blob in motion in the following video.
(iRobot Chembot Jamming Skin Enabled Locomotion video)
Read more about
DARPA's Chembot project and the MIT SQUISHBot (Soft QUIet Shape-shifting robot) research that preceded JSEL. And read about a different line of research in this area - the 'Gummi Bots' at Tufts University.
In the vein of soft-robots as entertainment, read about the
Funktionide Blob. And I'll close with the classic B-movie reference to blobs that ooze through theater vents and into your lives.
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