A First: 3D-Printed, Squishy Four-Legged Robot Can Climb Over Obstacles

Mechanical engineers from the University of California San Diego say they have created the first soft robot that can walk on rough surfaces, like sand and pebbles. Their 3D-printed, four-legged robot can climb over obstacles and walk on various terrains. This type of robot could be ideal for capturing sensor readings in dangerous environments or for search and rescue. While tethered, the robot was successfully tested on large rocks, inclined surfaces, and sand. It was also able to transition from walking to crawling into an increasingly confined space. Its legs are made up of three parallel, connected sealed inflatable chambers, or actuators, 3D-printed from a rubber-like material. The chambers are hollow on the inside, so they can be inflated. On the outside, the chambers are bellowed, which allows engineers to better control the legs' movements.