Skip to main content

Gumby Goes Camo

Last year, the Dancing Gumby Robot moon-walked across news headlines. Inspired by skeleton-less creatures like starfish and worms, scientists built a soft robot that can creep around tight spaces and crawl over uneven surfaces. Now, Gumby's gone camo.

Image courtesy of DARPA.

Researchers led by George Whitesides and Stephen Morin at Harvard University's Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have upgraded the soft silicon robot to change color, temperature, and even glow in the dark.

Key to this bot's adaptability are the networks of micro-canals embedded in the silicon body. These veins make the difference between your shoe insert and this soft robot that can crawl around in disguise.  Pressurized air through the veins dictates the robot's movement and by pumping dyed fluids through the channels, the scientists can match the robot to its surroundings. The hope, according to Morin, is to eventually enable the soft robots to move and change camouflage autonomously.

Probably unsurprisingly, Camo Gumby is funded in part by DARPA's Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) program. According to the news release from DARPA, the program's efforts are centered at developing a fleet of biomimetic robots with an emphasis on cost effective innovation. From the news release, it sounds like DARPA is pretty happy with Camo Gumby, whose camouflage in both the visible and infrared (temperature) ranges all comes for under $100.


  1. That is super creepy. It will be showing up in sci-fi shows soon!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts

How 4,000 Physicists Gave a Vegas Casino its Worst Week Ever

What happens when several thousand distinguished physicists, researchers, and students descend on the nation’s gambling capital for a conference? The answer is "a bad week for the casino"—but you'd never guess why.

Ask a Physicist: Phone Flash Sharpie Shock!

Lexie and Xavier, from Orlando, FL want to know: "What's going on in this video ? Our science teacher claims that the pain comes from a small electrical shock, but we believe that this is due to the absorption of light. Please help us resolve this dispute!"

The Science of Ice Cream: Part One

Even though it's been a warm couple of months already, it's officially summer. A delicious, science-filled way to beat the heat? Making homemade ice cream. (We've since updated this article to include the science behind vegan ice cream. To learn more about ice cream science, check out The Science of Ice Cream, Redux ) Image Credit: St0rmz via Flickr Over at Physics@Home there's an easy recipe for homemade ice cream. But what kind of milk should you use to make ice cream? And do you really need to chill the ice cream base before making it? Why do ice cream recipes always call for salt on ice?