According to a new BBC report, the Pentagon's Darpa Research Unit is funding research projects that involve sophisticated Meshworms, a robotic cheetah that could run at 18mph, a micro-aircraft with a camera that looks like a hummingbird, and a robotic AlphaDog which is designed to carry a soldiers gear. You'd think that these kinds of devices are for a Hollywood movie or video game, but no, these projects are alive and well in Pentagon labs.
The BBC report states that one of the more recent Pentagon projects involves sophisticated Meshworms. Engineering teams from MIT, Harvard and the Seoul National University in South Korea have created a robot that mimics a worm's movements - crawling along surfaces by contracting segments of its body.
The technique allows the machine to be made of soft materials so it can squeeze through tight spaces and mold its shape to rough terrain.
The engineers wrote that the "soft body, which is essentially compliant, exhibits large strains and enables the robot to traverse small openings and reconstitute shape, and survives from large impact force on falling."
They added that using a worm-like motion helped reduce the noise such machines produce, making them suitable "for reconnaissance purposes."