Meet CRAM: a compressible robot with articulated mechanisms inspired by cockroaches. It can squeeze and run through crevices half its height. The robot has a pliable shell and can splay its legs outward when squashed. Such a robot can be used in search and rescue missions when humans and regular robots may not be as useful:
In the event of an earthquake, first responders need to know if an area of rubble is stable and safe, but the challenge is, most robots can’t get into rubble. But if there are lots of cracks and vents and conduits, you can imagine just throwing a swarm of these robots in to locate survivors and safe entry points for first responders.
explains Robert Full, a professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley. This is just a prototype for now, but the idea has a lot of potential.