Harvard Has Invented A Robot That Can Easily Withstand Fire And Acid

Admittedly, the robot developed at Professor George M. Whitesides' lab doesn't really look like much. At a glance, one would assume it to be a toy, or at the very least, an arts and crafts project of some kind. It isn't, though - it's actually an extremely versatile (and surprisingly durable) all-terrain robot, with an incredibly unique means of locomotion:

Silicone rubber and compressed air.

Basically, the device has a series of air miniature air compressors on its back, which it uses to move its 'legs.' It's completely autonomous - inasmuch as its two-hour battery and lack of onboard AI allows it to be - and its unique body type gives it a range of motion most robots couldn't even come close to adopting. On top of that, it maintains an internal pressure of around 20 psi, meaning the little robot's actually surprisingly strong and able to carry loads of up to 3.4 kilograms while moving.

Thanks to the materials from which its body is constructed - silicone rubber is an extremely tough substance - the bot can function in a wide array of different conditions - many of which would completely disable more traditional robots. It's been tested in temperatures down to -9 degrees Celsius, put through puddles of water up to five centimeters deep, and - perhaps most impressively - moved through methane flames for periods up to fifty seconds. You could even throw acid on it or smash it with a hammer, and it wouldn't stop functioning .

In case, y'know...you were feeling particularly destructive or something.

Of course, the fact that the robot requires the air compressors, battery packs, and other components means it isn't entirely indestructible. Although its limbs can survive just about any punishment one might throw at it, the electronics on its back are decidedly more fragile. Until the nuts and bolts of the bot are replaced with something a little more durable, it'd be inaccurate to call it truly invulnerable.

The original design for the robot was developed by Whitesides and his team at Harvard back in 2011. Back then, it was tethered to external air compressors, which severely limited its invulnerability. By untethering it, they've given it a lot more utility...but to do what, exactly? 

At this point, I'm certain you're all wondering what this robot is good for, exactly. It's pretty cool that it's nearly indestructible, but what would one use it to do? Well...outside of lab work? 

Not a whole lot at this point. Home surveillance, maybe? Classroom activities? Field research? I mean, I guess you could use it as some sort of pet...it's cute, in a weird sort of way. 

I'm sure someone will figure something out eventually, at any rate. 

Anyway, even if it's not particularly useful to the average person, this is still an awesome invention, and could be the next step towards truly indestructible machines. I'm not yet certain if that's a good thing or a bad thing - I'm going to have to get back to you on that. For the time being,  if you want to pick one of these interesting little 'bots up for yourself, it'll run you at around $1,111.