SQUISHBot Project Page

SQUISHBot (Soft QUIet Shape-shifting robot) is a soft meso-scale robot that can climb walls, ceilings, and cross rough terrain. The robot is compliant and can morph, allowing it to conform to irregular shapes and squeeze through holes much smaller than its nominal cross-sectional area. The robot’s viscoelastic skeleton can transition from rigid to compliant states; it is comprised of field responsive fluids impregnated within a high-porosity open-cell foam to create viscoelastic solids with highly compliant and user-selectable stiffness. Advanced software controls the stiffness of SQUISHBot’s body to affectively make it a high- or low-degree-of-freedom robot.

SQUISHBot travels using principles of locomotion adapted from the study of slugs, snails, and other mollusks. By excreting a very thin film of viscous fluid that spreads between the robot’s flexible body—which acts like a foot—and the terrain, SQUISHBot is able to climb vertical and inverted surfaces and traverse a variety of terrains and substrates.

MIT is collaborating with Boston Dynamics, who is responsible for the final design and delivery of the robot. In addition to the Compliant Mechanism Design led by Martin Culpepper and Karl Iagnemma, other MIT groups are conducting research in the areas of Field Responsive Fluids (led by Anette Hosoi and Gareth McKinley) and water harvesting (led by McKinley).