Soft robot squirms over fire, ice, and withstands crushing force

Engineers have created a shape-changing “soft” robot that can tread over a variety of adverse environmental conditions including snow, puddles of water, flames, and the crushing force of being run over by an automobile. The engineers from Cornell and Harvard Universities will detail the robot in an upcoming edition of the journal Soft Robotics. The pneumatically powered, fully untethered robot was enabled by the careful selection of materials and composites, including silicone elastomer. It can carry its own weight and the authors say the robot demonstrates surprising resilience with implications for search and rescue missions.