Whether it is serving as helpful Robby the Robot-style assistants to human astronauts or carrying out remote explorations where humans dare not — or simply don’t want to — tread, there are plenty of reasons why robots have a valuable future in space missions.
But don’t expect that the bots best suited for a life in the stars will necessarily look like the ones we’re used to seeing here on Earth.
The latest example of this is King Louie (yes, named after the rowdy orangutan from Disney’s 1967 movie The Jungle Book).
Developed using funding from NASA, this inflatable creation may appear more like a float from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade than a state-of-the-art robot, but it’s actually a pretty damn interesting glimpse at the possible future of robotics.
Louie’s movement is controlled by inflating or deflating different chambers in its limbs.
As such, they function in the same antagonistic way as muscle pairs in the human body, where one muscle contracting (say, your bicep) means another one (in this case, the tricep) relaxing.