Robots are already being used to perform inspection and sample collection in environments dangerous to humans. While soft robots have been used for many tasks, their usefulness under radiation has yet to be assessed. Researchers have now tested effectiveness soft robots fabricated from polydimethylsiloxane under radiation.
As they explain:
We investigated gamma-induced mechanical damage in the PDMS materials’ mechanical properties, including elongation, tensile strength, and stiffness. We selected three radiation environments from the nuclear industry to represent a wide range of radiation and then submerged a 3D printed hexapus robot into a radiation environment to estimate its operation time. Results of this study show that with increasing exposure to gamma irradiation, the mechanical properties of PDMS decrease in functionality but are minimally impacted up to 20 kGy gamma radiation
These soft robots could operate for 12h in two of the 3 radiation environments. More info is available here.