Google Play icon

New Shape-Changing Robots Take on Changing Terrains

Posted May 13, 2019

Researchers are trying everything possible to come up with robots which are capable of adapting to morphology and actions that are crucial. Altering their shape and how they move enables them to conquer barriers or go on with their functions despite the changes in the environment.

Free image via Pixabay

More about robots that change their design

The 1st shape-altering robots to get designed were those changing from cylindrical shape to a dumbbell. Their core is created using a substance similar to clay and it is covered using 2 robotic covers. The covers were designed in Kramer-Bottiglio laboratory. They are created using pieces which can stretch and they contain actuators and detectors.

Each of the covers has its functions. One of them gives a robot its moving force and the other one changes the body into various shapes the same manner a person does to sculpt clay. With some clay and surface forces, a person can change clay into various shapes. This is the exact approach that researchers are using. The robotic covers get wrapped over clay and the exact approach is used to alter the shape of the core.

Shape-altering robot

Shape-altering robot. Free image via Pixabay

The shape-altering robots project is additionally inspired by organisms which change their structures to adapt to different environments. For example, amphibians grow other limbs after amputation. Also, caterpillars and tadpoles change their body shape completely when they need to undertake new roles.

There are some many more capabilities for transforming the shape and what can be achieved from shape-altering robots. So, more shape-altering machines are expected to come. Actually, there already exists another robot which is spherical in shape but can flatten like a pancake. After flattening, it uses an inchworm stride to go up a steep incline.

The pros and cons of robotic automation


Cost: Robots perform duties in repetitive cycles provided they are maintained well. This increases production thus recovering the investment costs within a very short period.

Robots perform duties

Robots perform duties. Free image via Pixabay

Quality assurance: Employees do not like repetitive jobs and they lose interest fast during such jobs. This affects a company but robotic automation will eliminate that.

Production: Numerous studies, including those conducted by renowned scientist Max Polyakov, have shown that robots perform repetitive jobs, so employees will have a chance to attend to other tasks and the company as a whole will benefit a lot.

Hazardous environment: Workplaces like industries can lead to injuries. Especially if the place has poisonous chemicals, the robots will be the perfect solution to use since they cannot get affected.

Also, the workplaces which have very low or very high temperatures are dangerous for human beings. Using robots will prevent people from risking their lives.


Loss of jobs: Since robots can work faster and more consistently, human beings might no longer be needed at work. This, however, has not been the case so far. A good example is Amazon where the rate of employment is still high yet they have more than forty-five thousand robots.

Investment costs: This a great challenge for most companies. A detailed business case needs to be prepared when implementing robotic technology.

Skilled employees: Companies will need to hire people who have good programming knowledge to handle the robots.


The robots are getting smarter each day. They help in reducing production costs and they increase production thus leading to the growth of businesses and a high number of satisfied customers. Did you find our information useful? What do you think about the new-shape changing robots? Please share your thoughts and if you have a question, feel free to ask us.

Author bio

Christian Mohna has worked in several technology companies for quite some time. He has also written a number of articles on topics related to robots.

Featured news from related categories:

Technology Org App
Google Play icon
83,399 science & technology articles