Wired Science's Dave Mosher investigates elastomeric soft robots -- air-powered origami creepers that can go places that challenge their rigid metallic kin.
Getting the soft robots to perform a particular action is a feat of origami: Folded in just the right way and glued in the right spots, for example, the researchers showed how a crinkled clump of silicone-soaked paper lifted a 2-pound weight. The force of the air required to drive it was roughly twice that of a human exhalation.
The team has also cylinders that blow into spheres, tubes that act like springs and compact stacks that turn into rigid rings or pipes.
Avi Solomon notes the similarity between these eerie things and the robots in Ted Chiang's brilliant science fiction story Exhalation.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.