Interesting application of science here.
iRobot (the makers of the Roomba) made this for DARPA, and have released a video of this scary looking robot 😛.
CNET’s description of how it works:
It gets around by way of a process called “jamming,” in which material can transition between semiliquid and solid states with only a slight change in volume.
In ChemBot’s case, a flexible silicone skin encapsulates a series of pockets containing a mix of air and loosely packed particles. When air is removed from the compartments, the skin attempts to equalize the pressure differential by constricting the particles, which shift slightly to fill the void left by the evacuated air.
Video as follows: