Instead of focusing their immense talents on designing adorable robot puppies, or cuddly cyborg kittens, researchers at MIT have created an artificial earthworm that contracts and expands its body using nickel-titanium muscles that allow it to unsettlingly crawl its way along.
The Meshworm's entire body is made from the special nickel-titanium wire that expands and contracts when it's heated or cooled by a small onboard battery. And thanks to a specially-developed algorithm that carefully regulates the pattern of heating and cooling, the artificial worm is able to inch its way along like its real-life counterpart. An additional set of muscle wires running along the length of its body are able to steer the Meshworm left and right, and since there are no rigid materials used in its construction, it keeps on going even after being stepped on or abused with a hammer—an experience that would leave a real worm splattered across the sidewalk. [MIT via Ubergizmo]