Robot rat could save you from a burning building — but would it want to?

Bow down, people, and worship your new leader, the SCRATCHbot. Cute little critter, isn't he? This biomimetic rodent robot has been developed by the Bristol Robotics Lab and the University of Sheffield and could be used to rescue people from disaster zones. And it's all got something to do with the bot's whiskers.

SCRATCHbot, which stands for Spatial Cognition and Representation through Active Touch, uses a technique called active touch sensing. The "rat"'s plastic whiskers sweep the area in front of its nose to work out the size and shape of the object in front of it — useful in places where there is low visibility, such as smoke- and dust-filled rooms.

While not quite as real as this guy, the SCRATCHbot will be able to do one thing that its real-life counterpart can't, and that's clean up after itself. So, the closest ordinary citizens like you or me will come to this technology (unless we're being rescued from a towering inferno) will be when our robot slaves are pushing around the vacuum cleaners of the future, while we while away our time watching bad disaster movies.

Via Daily Mail