Ball-Shaped Squishy Robots Can Drop from 600 feet and Survive

These days robots come in all shapes and sizes, from conventional-shaped robotic arms working in factories to dog-sized creatures of nightmare. But how about a ball-shaped robot that can be dropped from the sky and survive to do its master’s bidding?
Squishy Robot 1 photo
Photo: Squishy Robotics
Such a design is currently being researched by engineers from the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) and a group called Squishy Robotics. The stated goal of such research is to create machines that can be dropped into disaster zones and survive, but how can we be sure?

“Our rapidly deployable mobile sensor robots are designed to save lives, reduce costs and risks and increase effectiveness of emergency response,” UC Berkeley mechanical engineering professor Alice Agogino said according to Berkeley News.

“They can survive a high drop into a disaster zone and provide life-saving information to first responders. They can also work as co-robots with their human partners on the ground when they arrive on the scene.”

So, how do they work? The Squishy robots are spheres built using a number of rods and contracting cables that allow the actual sensors and chips inside to remain intact after the robot hits the ground. The construction is solid enough to survive an impact after being dropped from up to 600 feet (183 meters), its creators say.

And the team is serious about making these robots a reality, as partnerships with the Los Angeles County and the Houston fire departments are being inked right now to allow testing of the technology.

Later on, Squishy robots could be used by other agencies and for other purposes, especially ones dealing with hazardous materials. Users will be able to deploy the technology in swarms, equipped with a wide range of sensors including chemical and biological.

For now, there’s no timetable for the release of the machines in the wild.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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