When you think of robots, one quality that immediately springs to mind is superhuman strength, and that's something this new bot from iRobot definitely embodies. Developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Advanced Inflatable Robot (AIR) has a blow-up arm that weighs only half a pound yet can lift and pull up to three.
The AIR uses tank-style treads to get around. When it finds something it needs to interact with, a hatch on its top opens and the robotic arm inside of it inflates. Then, when it's finished, the arm deflates and is safely stowed back inside.
While it can only lift a couple of pounds at present, iRobot believes it's possible to increase its strength by using more air pressure. The limb is actually designed to have some give; in the event the robot runs into objects and people, it can quickly release pressure so as not to cause damage.
We've seen air used in another DARPA robot prototype recently. In that case, it's pumped in and out of a soft-bodied, crawling bot that's able to change its color to camouflage itself and avoid detection when infiltrating enemy lines.
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