Inflatable soft robots are being developed by NASA interns Chuck Sullivan and Jack Fitzpatrick to explore Mars. These soft robots are made from a supple rubber that's partially built by a 3D printing mold. The soft body allows the robots to move and bend without damaging their internal mechanics.
The flexible body also makes the soft robots better equipped to maneuver difficult terrain, increase their range of motion, and reducing their size to fit their surroundings. Thanks to the inflatable design, NASA explains that "the robot can flex and relax, just like a human muscle." These features make the robot resilient to damage, unlike traditional rigid robots. These adaptable robots could change how we explore space and how we build the robots of the future.
Image Credit: Gary Banzinger/NASA