iRobot's 'ChemBot' morphs between solid and semi-liquid states

iRobot, well-known for the Roomba, and researchers at the University of Chicago are showing off their chemical robot, or chembot, which they are calling "the first demonstration of a completely soft, mobile robot using jamming as an enabling technology." What's this jamming they speak of? It's how the robot moves, using its "jamming skin" made up of cell compartments that can be filled or emptied, coupled with a central actuator that can inflate the 'bot's beach-ball-like body.

The research began as the "ChemBot" project, part of a multimillion-dollar R&D contract awarded to iRobot over a year ago. If fully realized, it's believed that such a robot would serve as a valuable tool in traversing tricky terrain, such as a crack in the wall.

Check out the video below to learn more about this mysterious jamming skin.

IEEE Spectrum, via Engadget, via Geekologie