Squishy Robot Designed for Space Missions Breaks Ground in Disaster Response

A squishy, lightweight robot that was originally developed for space missions has found a surprising application in disaster response. The shape-shifting robot, built by California-based company Squishy Robotics, has the ability to remotely assess hazards and plan approaches for first responders before they enter disaster-hit areas, including wildfires, chemical spills, and even war zones. The robot, which weighs less than 3 pounds (1.3 kilograms), can be attached to drones and deployed in challenging terrains.

The concept for the robot originated from a NASA-funded project to develop a mobile device for gathering data and performing science operations on the moon or Mars. The robot’s skeletal, web-like structure, based on the principle of tensegrity, distributes the force upon impact, protecting the sensitive sensors at its core. In tests, the robot endured long drops and tough environments, surviving intentional explosions and streaming data and video throughout the process.

The robot has already been utilized in real disaster response scenarios. In one instance, it assisted first responders in monitoring air quality for gas leaks after a train derailment in Florida. In another training exercise, it was placed in a confined space under a rubble pile to monitor air while simulating a trapped victim.

According to Alice Agogino, co-founder and CEO of Squishy Robotics, the successful application of the robot in disaster response has convinced her team of its potential to save lives. The technology that was originally developed for space missions can now be used on Earth to aid first responders in high-risk areas. With its ability to withstand harsh environments and provide real-time data, the squishy robot marks an innovative step forward in disaster response efforts.

– NASA’s Ames Research Center
– Squishy Robotics Inc.
– [Source Article]