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There are certain scientific discoveries and inventions that start out cute and end up kind of terrifying… the chameleon quadruped ‘bot is one of them. Still, lets bask in it while it’s cute, because it’s really quite amazing. Here’s the details from POPSCI:

Chameleon Robot This colorful soft quadruped ‘bot can amble at 40 meters per hour. S. Morin, Harvard University

Soft robots are coming a long way, with strong yet stretchy bodies that can survive all kinds of assaults. But it would be even better if they didn’t have to survive smashing attempts at all, instead blending into their environments so neither animals nor people would even know they were there. Researchers at Harvard designed new chameleon-bots that can do exactly that.

Stephen Morin and colleagues developed four-limbed rubbery robots with special skin, which is threaded with two types of micro-channels. They’re pneumatically powered, so forcing air through the tiny channels makes them walk or crawl. Another set of channels is filled with fluorescent dyes. The combination and color of dyes can give the robot interesting camouflage or display capabilities, the researchers report.

Their color, contrast, patterns, brightness and even temperature and shape can all be changed, depending on what you want the robot to do. They can blend in with their environments, display messages, light up or even glow in infrared — that’s something animals can’t even do…

Adding the Color: Microchannels embedded in the soft robot’s skin are filled with fluorescent dyes, allowing it to change colors. S. Morin, Harvard University

Read more at POPSCI: