The palm-sized amorphous Chembot is the latest disarmingly cute military robot from iRobot. This little ball of cutting-edge technology—funded with $3.3 million from DARPA—debuted this week, and man, this is one bizarre robot.
From Popular Science:
The bot, which was shown off at the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems this week, has a silicone skin, and moves by selectively inflating and deflating parts of its spherical body. But the locomotion system entails more than simple puffing and rolling: The video [see below] explains the “particle jamming” system of locomotion, “a mechanism by which material can transition from a liquid-like to a solid-like state.”
(According to IEEE, the video below is a little dated, but it’s still a good primer on “jamming.” The cool stuff starts at around 1:50.)
Discoblog: Tiny Jumping Robot Can Find Enemies, Scale Fences
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Video: YouTube / spectrummag
I own a Roomba, and personally, now that I have one, I can’t quite see the need for any other pets (my Roomba is notably more affectionate than many cats I have known, for example.) But apparently I’m in a minority, because the iRobot corporation has developed an addition to the Roomba line specifically designed for pet owners, and their never-ending battle against shedded fur. The new model comes with a large capacity bin to handle the extra debris that arises when someone insists on having organic lifeforms as their domestic companions, and the design of the sweeper system has been tweaked so that all that hair doesn’t get tangled up around the brushes.