NASA Mars robot technology adapted for Earth: Saving lives in disaster response

Dr. Alice Agogino's Mars robot technology finds terrestrial applications, revolutionizing disaster response and public safety with Squishy Robotics Inc.
Kavita Verma
Squishy Robotics’ robot in use
Squishy Robotics’ robot in use


For her NASA-funded spherical skeleton robots intended for interplanetary exploration, Dr. Alice Agogino, a famous scientist and the head of the Berkeley Emergent Space Tensegrities Lab at the University of California, Berkeley, has found terrestrial applications. 

The robots developed by Agogino, which were initially meant for data collection on Mars or the Moon, may help first responders in the event of calamities on Earth.

The novel robots are created by Squishy Robotics Inc., a Berkeley-based firm founded by Agogino. They have a ball-shaped skeletal system made of rods and elastic cables. The robots' distinctive shape enables them to disperse impact pressures while safeguarding the delicate instruments and sensors. They are known as "tensegrity" structures and were influenced by the idea of tensile integrity proposed by architect R. Buckminster Fuller.

Revolutionizing disaster response and public safety

After reading a paper on the risks encountered by first responders, Agogino concluded that her robots might aid in disaster response efforts. If equipped with suitable sensors, the robots could gather vital information at disaster scenes, such as fires, crashes, and hazardous material leaks. This would help determine the dangers and improve the planning of rescue operations.

"The ability to save lives not only on the Moon but also on Earth was an inspiring revelation," Agogino said. After discovering this novel application, she co-founded Squishy Robotics Inc. to produce impact-resistant and programmable robots for public safety, military, and industrial uses.

These robots provide a flexible solution for numerous settings thanks to their sturdy construction and trim design. They can be dropped into dangerous or disaster-prone areas where they collect crucial information and pass it on to first responders. 

The robots aid emergency personnel in making decisions by providing real-time information about potential threats like poisonous gas leaks, which might improve safety and save lives.

Expanding Reach and Collaboration

Squishy Robotics is becoming more well-known in public safety thanks to its goal of protecting lives. Leading fire agencies, such as Southern Manatee Fire and Rescue, Tulsa Fire Department, and San Jose Fire Department, have worked with the organization. Additionally, Squishy Robotics' goods are now more widely accessible thanks to reseller relationships with several distributors.

The tensegrity robots developed by Agogino have also shown promise in preventing wildfires, monitoring gas and electric lines, and defusing bombs. These robots are essential in early identifying and preventing wildfires because they keep an eye on high-risk regions, respond to reports, and ensure that smaller fires are completely put out.

By working with prestigious fire departments, including Southern Manatee, Tulsa, and San Jose, Squishy Robotics obtains recognition in public safety. Partnerships with resellers increase availability. The tensegrity robots from Agogino are exceptional at defusing bombs, monitoring gas and electric lines, and preventing wildfires.