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Pentagon prepares army of robot worms

In an attempt to create the armed forces products of the future, the Pentagon has gone back to nature. Alongside a dog-like robot to carry a soldier’s heavy equipment into the battlefield, they have also developed a tiny reconnaissance plane that emulates a hummingbird and another device that mimics a cheetah and can hit speeds of almost 20 miles an hour.

KitGuru wonders what on earth the worms have to do with war.

When things are heated, in general, they expand. Likewise, when they are cooled, they contract. Physics 101 ends there.

Now imagine that the material being heated and contracted is a thin nickel-titanium wire, wrapped like a spring around the central ‘body’ of an intrusion robot, created from a special polymer mesh. Get the heating and cooling right – then you can create a muscle-like action. Effectively, the tube like robot has 5 sections and passing the right current along each section, in order, gives it a worm-like drive system.

That’s what MIT has succeeded in doing for the US military: Creating a worm-like robot with the ability to burrow and make its way toward a reconnaissance target.

Depending on the density of the material that the worm-bot needs to drill through, it can move at up to 18 meters an hour. That would be enough to go into the ground, under a wall, and arrive up the other side in a sensible time frame.

When presenting the worm-bot, the US military were keen to point out its durability and the fact that it can be trodden on or hit with a hammer – and still continue to operate. Which must bring up the possibility of these robots being deployed by air – dropped in volume over an enemy’s territory – to send back vital information.

It's hard to know where the military gets these ideas from

KitGuru says: If you consider how vicious and effective nature has been – through all the various species on the planet – it’s only natural that weapon scientists would ‘look to mama’ for the next way of killing people.

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