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iRobot's latest robot is unique on many levels. The doughy blob moves by inflating and deflating - a new technique its developers call "jamming." As the researchers explain in the video below, the jamming mechanism enables the robot to transition from a liquid-like to a solid-like state.
As a new kind of chemical robot (or chembot), the blob bot has stretchy silicone skin, which is composed of multiple cellular compartments that each contain a "jammable slurry." When some of these cells are unjammed, and an actuator in the center of the robot is inflated, the robot inflates in the areas of the unjammed cells. By controlling which cells are unjammed, the researchers can change the shape of the robot and make it roll in a specific direction.