To address fundamental challenges in the design, materials, and functional properties to enable development of field robots with changing morphology and transport modalities. Access to complex environments requires a robot capable of morphing its shape and/or its properties making “Morphing” a key capability of the next generation of field robots.
Often a robot’s performance in the field is limited by its shape, morphological properties and transport modalities. While optimal shapes can aid in specific tasks, the individual bespoke design does not scale well in many domains where the tasks are varied and domains have complex properties.
Imagine a robot that is deployed by a first responder in a disaster area after a building collapse or post flooding. A morphing robot would be able to change its body size and shape to squeeze through tight spaces in the rubble to search for rescuers trapped underneath and bringing vital resources like glucose/water to sustain them during the rescue process. Or imagine the dangerous task of confined space inspection of hazardous environments like fuel tanks or pipelines of maritime vehicles or sewage systems in an urban environment. A morphing robot would be able to adapt its structure to effortlessly navigate these complex environments keeping the infrastructure inspectors and maintenance workers out of harm’s way while remotely operating these robots.