NASA 360 takes a look at the NASA Innovative Advanced Concept (NIAC) known as Shapeshifter. Researched by a team of engineers at NASA JPL the Shapeshifter concept is a flying amphibious robot that could one day be used to explore the treacherous terrains of distant worlds.
PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Mini robots that can roll, fly, float and swim, then morph into a single machine? Together they form Shapeshifter, a developing concept for a transformational vehicle to explore treacherous, distant worlds.
In a dusty robotics yard at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, the Shapeshifter team is testing a 3D-printed prototype of this unusual explorer. A contraption that looks like a drone encased in an elongated hamster wheel rolls across the yard, then splits in half. Once separated, the two halves rise on small propellers, effectively becoming flying drones for aerial exploration. These 3D-printed parts are only the beginning; the team imagines a series of up to 12 robots that could transform into a swimming probe or a team of cave explorers.
The flying amphibious robot is part of the early-stage research program NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC), which offers several phases of funding to visionary concepts, ...