Ever dropped something in a hard to reach spot and couldn't get your arm there to pick it up? "1D printing" could offer an interesting solution. This system bends a small wire with a motor attached into a shape that can wriggle and squirm into a tiny crevice.
This machine that prints the robots uses "evolutionary algorithms" which change the shape and form of the wire bit by bit until it hits on a shape that will accomplish the intended goal. The catch is that this method can take a while to find the right shape, so don't expect it to be perfect on the first try.
Sebastian Risi, a member of a research team at the IT University of Copenhagen which helped design the robot puts the project this way: "The idea is that you analyze the current situation, then make a robot on the fly that can deal with it." And after you use your bot, you can simply recycle it back into the machine so that the wire can be used for a different project.
"You then end up with a robot that can crawl under that awkward piece of rubble or over collapsed wall in a burning building." Sebastian adds. Best of all, the system doesn't require any previous knowledge of robotics to use, so hopefully it can be helping scientists and rescue workers soon.
Source: Popular Mechanics