Not all future robots will be hulking machines with cold mechanical precision. While science fiction has crafted wild narratives of towering transformers intent on world domination, a new breed of small, squishy robots are starting to take shape.
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The latest of these strangely cute and huggable bots is "The Glaucus," named after the blue sea slug. It was developed for Super-Releaser, a Brooklyn-based tech firm specializing in soft robotics. Composed of molded silicone and wax, the open source quadruped features internal chambers and bladders that can be inflated to reproduce nearly any geometric computer model.
"When either of these chambers is pressurized, it deforms and bends the robot's legs and sides," writes Glaucus' creator, Matthew Borgatti. "This bending produces the walking motion. It is similar to how a salamander walks, by balancing itself on a pair of legs diagonal from one another while moving the opposite pair forward."
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While the tethered Glaucus won't be out-muscling Big Dog or bionic elephant trunks any time soon, it is a proof-of-concept for future applications, like an inflatable medical cuff that could help patients rehabilitate their muscles and range of motion. And if that doesn't work out, Glaucus looks like it would make an excellent stress-relieving squeeze toy. Check out the blue blob in action with the video.