iRobot is working on a new design that's on the softer side of the robotic spectrum — an inflatable arm that can lift multiple times its own weight. Dubbed Advanced Inflatable Robot — or AIR for short — the design is actually built off of the company's unmanned ground vehicle project (UGV). The AIR's inflatable arm weighs just half a pound at present, but can manage to lift objects that weigh up to three pounds — like a Gatorade bottle, for instance, as shown in the video below. DARPA is expected to award iRobot a $625,000 contract to further develop the AIR. The goal is to eventually make it both cheaper and lighter, as well as able to operate in harsher conditions so that it can be used for military applications. Now all it needs is a self-repairing hand.
DARPA and iRobot are developing a new robotic arm that's inflatable.