The term 'deformed' is typically not a compliment when it comes to any kind of engineering design, but a group of engineers and scientists over at Caltech and ETH Zurich in Switzerland have made deformation work to their advantage by creating a swimming robot that makes use of the advantages of deforming materials.
Specifically, this particular swimming robot is crafted out of a temperature-sensitive material that straightens up when warm but adopts a curled shape in cooler temperatures. When the polymer moves from curled to straightened position, it activates the robot's oars in order to move it forward.
This swimming robot responds to temperature but could also be manipulated to respond to other factors such as salinity levels. With its ability to be propelled without fuel, this swimming robot could be of great use in cleaning up ocean oil spills.