These shape shifting bots could help NASA explore planets

IDG News Service | Apr 14, 2017

The robots are made from a number of rods and cables allowing them to easily adapt to moving through challenging terrains and making it much easier for them to be dropped onto the surface of planets than current rovers.

This bot may one day help NASA explore planets

It can be transported flat

And expand to its full shape once dropped into place

Current rovers need to be gently lowered onto a planet’s surface

Like the Curiosity Rover

which needed a parachute and engined vehicle to land on Mars

But this robot will just bounce back after impact

It’s built on the idea of tensegrity

which is an interaction between tension and compression

Motors change the shape of the robot to make it move

making it versatile in challenging terrains

The bots are made by students at UC Berkeley and by NASA

It’s still years away from being used on a mission

But shows promise for a light, cheap rover alternative