Inflatable Huggable Robots Could Replace Complex Mechanical Automatons

All of those images of a dystopian future where mankind is enslaved by giant robots don't seem so terrifying if these inflatable air-powered alternatives are realized. Not only do they seem downright adorable and huggable, they're also incredibly easy to make once a mould has been 3D printed.

Inspired by a sea slug, which it shares its name with, the Glaucus 'robot' is made from a single sealed piece of silicone with internal chambers that can be inflated to distort the creation's overall shape—kind of like what happens when you squeeze one segment of a balloon animal. But when properly engineered and coordinated, inflating the bladders inside the Glaucus allow it to slowly scamper across the floor like a four-legged animal.


And while Glaucus isn't terribly fast or particularly useful at this stage, it serves as proof of concept of this technology for other applications—including an inflatable cuff that could automatically guide rehab patients through various routines, or even as just insurance that our eventual robot attackers could one day be felled with hat pins. [Adafruit Learning System via Boing Boing]