Only the Spineless

The US Army is considering enlisting robots inspired by invertebrates. Soldiers might end up using flexible robots inspired to go where human can not go.  

The University of Minnesota and the US Army Research Laboratory have teamed up to develop pliable materials that can be 3-D printed, on the battlefield, if necessary.  These autonomous robots can move easily in confined spaces and slither into small holes the way biological organisms such as squids might maneuver.  These shape-shifting invertebrates could move freely in highly populated environments where humans and rigid robots could not negotiate.

Soft polymorphic invertebrates may offer the military unimagined on-demand, tailorable autonomous systems for operations in the tight confines of complex, congested, and non-permissive environments such as dense urban and subterranean environments. It is claimed that soft robotics are more resilient in arduous conditions. The arduous environments are dense urban and subterranean environments.

These #D printed robots can move easily in confined quarters and have flexible maneuverability.  This makes these soft invertebrates superior to robots made from rigid mechanical parts.

Researchers have created a soft 3D-printed dielectric elastomer actuator -- an electroactive polymer that changes shape when hit with an electrical charge.