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DARPA's low-cost silicone robot cloaks like a chameleon, treks like a snail (video)

Zachary Lutz

Remember those colorful sticky hands that you used to buy for a quarter from grocery store vending machines? Yeah, this is kind of like that -- except that it's a freaking robot. DARPA is currently working to develop low-cost silicone robots that use both air and fluid to control movement, color and temperature. In the following video, you can see one of these soft contraptions as it journeys onto a bed of rocks and then uses colored liquid to blend into its surroundings. Don't expect this glorious sticky hand to break any land speed records, however; the silicone bot can travel approximately 40 meters per hour, or up to 67 meters per hour without the fluid. (Even the 30 second video, which goes at a snail's pace, has been sped up five fold.)

The current demonstration implements a tethered solution as the robot's source of power, pumps, gasses and liquids, but future developments may allow for a self-contained system. Further, rather than improving the robot's speed, its developers will instead focus on its flexibility as a means for navigating within tight spaces. Be sure to peep the video below, and we think you'll agree that DARPA's creation easily puts those sticky hands to shame.

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