These robots are made to respond before the first responders.
“We think that it can save lives,” Squishy Robotics CEO Alice Agogino tells NBC of the robots built to assess ground conditions before emergency human crews are sent into disaster zones.
The 2-pound robots have been dropped from as high as 600 feet without sustaining damage, and Agogino believes they should be able to withstand falls from even higher heights.
The bots “can be deployed with multiple — even swarms — of collaborative squishy robots, equipped with visual, audio, chemical, biological, radiological and GPS sensors,” the Robotics site describes.
A new “mobile” squishy robot, optimized for combing rougher terrain, is also in the works. “It can shift its shape to go between boulders and rocks,” says Agogino.Squishy Robots were inspired by Agogino’s time working with NASA researchers on building a robot with the capacity to be dropped onto one of Saturn’s moons. “I could just see all these applications on planet Earth,” says Agogino. While Squishy Robots have yet to make it to space, they’re getting ready to roll out locally, possibly by the end of the year.
Los Angeles and Texas fire departments are currently field testing the robo responders.
Homeland Security may soon be a customer, too. Greg Price, division director for the DC department, says the bots’ chemical sensors and cameras “can save lives, absolutely.”