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Squishy robot designed for space now assists emergency workers on Earth

In an era where technology is pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, California-based Squishy Robotics is breaking new ground with a robot designed to aid first responders in dangerous and high-risk situations.

Originally conceptualized for missions on Mars or the Moon, Squishy’s robot has found a life-saving purpose here on Earth. This versatile device can gauge environmental hazards and provide a strategic approach for first responders before they delve into situations like wildfires, car crashes, and even war zones. The idea behind this, as expressed by co-founder and CEO Alice Algino, is to prioritize human safety and ensure the best possible outcomes during rescue missions.

Moving squishy robots from space to land

The journey of Squishy Robotics from an outer space concept to a terrestrial lifesaver is remarkable. Back in 2014, the company received a grant of $500,000 from NASA for research.

The study focused on the robot’s mobility in zero gravity or low gravity environments using gas thrusters. Such thrusters enable the robot to leap to regions in space inaccessible to astronauts.

Fast forward to recent times, and the robot has been making waves in on-ground operations. With a weight of under three pounds, it can be seamlessly attached to drones for aerial missions.

This feature was displayed in February when a drone deployed the robot to inspect derailed propane tanks in Florida. Squishy’s robot did more than just a visual inspection. It actively monitored air quality and successfully detected gas leaks, potentially averting a major disaster.

The resilience of the Squishy robot was put to the test in various challenging scenarios. In one such test, it was airdropped from an airplane at a staggering height of 1,000 feet. In another, it was squeezed into a compact space beneath a rubble pile to simulate a rescue scenario.

Squishy robots are very durable

Remarkably, the robot even withstood an intentional explosion within a testing chamber. Through all these trials, the robot not only survived but continued to record videos and stream data, showcasing its robust build and dependable functionalities.

The secret behind its durability lies in its unique web-like structure. This design ensures that the force from any impact is evenly distributed, safeguarding its sensitive central sensors. These sensors are vital for capturing and relaying real-time information to first responders.

Recognizing the potential of the Squishy robot, the company engaged with 300 first responders. These interviews were conducted to glean insights into how the robot could be further optimized for rescue operations.

In summary, Squishy Robotics has emerged as a beacon of innovation, pivoting from space exploration to life-saving terrestrial applications. With its advanced capabilities and potential for further optimization, this robot represents a promising future for emergency response technology.

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