Rodrigo’s Science Journal #9: Chembots!

Have you ever seen movies in which monsters squeeze in through doors? This might be possible in the future thanks to the chembots!




Chembots are mobile robots that can change their shapes and physical characteristics in order to do things that it could not normally do, considering their original bodies.




The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) revealed that chembots are “soft, flexible, mobile objects that can identify and manoeuvre through openings smaller than their static structural dimensions.”


According to Margaret Rouse, from TechTarget, chembots are special because of the following properties:


– Flexibility in three dimensions;

– The ability to break apart and reform;

– Support of autonomous or remotely controlled modes;

– Ability to withstand extremes of temperature, pressure, humidity and radiation;

– Flexible external “skin” that can withstand stress without rupturing;

– Backbone structure that allows reconstitution to original physical shape and dimensions;

– Tactile sensing;

– Ability to carry hard and soft payloads without damaging them or being damaged by them.
(Retrieved from TechTarget)


These robots are being researched due to a partnership involving Harvard, MIT, and iRobot. In case they are well developed, these chembots would be able to work in drug delivery, for example. They could travel with an embedded payload while changing their shape and size, and then reconstituting themselves to their original forms. Or they could even be able to fix organs in human bodies by changing their shape.




According to a DARPA document, the intended abilities for chembots already exist in nature: “many soft creatures, including mice, octopi, and insects, readily traverse openings barely larger than their largest ‘hard’ component.”




Maybe in the future chembots will be able to explore space, be used in military operations such as gathering intelligence and be implanted in the human body for medical applications.


If you want to know more about chembots, check this video:



Written by Rodrigo Ferreira

Edited by Carlos Sevilla

Copy-edited by Maria Tirnovanu


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