NASA’s next robot rover squishes like a child’s toy

In order to land on the Martian surface, NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity went through seven minutes of terror: it plummeted from the sky at 13,000 miles per hour, with only a supersonic parachute and a set of rocket motors to keep it from becoming a crater. However, a team at NASA has a nifty trick up its sleeves for the next time around: a rover made of hollow rods and elastic cable that can squish and bounce. Just like the Skwish, a popular child’s toy developed in the early ’80s, NASA’s Super Ball Bot uses the principles of tensegrity to do its job. The contraption can absorb the impact of a hard landing, pop right back up, then roll across a surface, end over end, like an extremely awkward ball.

While NASA scientists are still proving…

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