back to article Roomba robot maker to build DARPA squidge-droids

Famous robotics company iRobot - maker of the noted Roomba autonomous floor-cleaner and supplier of war-bots to the US military - has announced a radical new development contract. The company is to create a "soft" robot able to wriggle its way through "openings smaller than its actual structural dimensions". It almost goes …


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  1. Chris Miller


    A plural form used by pedants (moi?) in an attempt to demonstrate their classical street-cred. Sadly, pus (foot) is from the Greek - plural podes. So octopodes if you must (octopuses is the form given in most dictionaries) but never, never octopi.

    As you were men, back to the death ray development ...

  2. Adrian
    Paris Hilton


    The movie that is, is obviously a hot favorite of DARPA.

    Paris - she's as ridiculous as this latest concept

  3. Ian McNee

    I must be missing something...

    ...but surely it would be cheaper and less tricky to simply make robo-blob a bit smaller than to give it the complex mechanics and spatial brains/awareness to allow it to squeeze through holes smaller than itself.

    By the way: 'It would probably be within the rules of the game for the robot to...release a gas in order to "perform a function".' Cunning! A farting robo-blob! I suppose while <Insert emeny/name of current Islamo-terror-jihadi-bod here> is having a good laugh about said flatulent fleshy droid, GI Jane nips round the back and melts him with her new electro-plasmatron gun fresh from the particle accelerator firing ranges at DARPA...

  4. Tim

    @ Chris Miller - Read your dictionaries!

    The Cambridge Dictionary gives Octopi as a plural of Octopus.....along with Octopuses (for the plebs to use).

    Seems an assumption to say it is NEVER used. I use it and dont use Octopodes, which is the plural of "thing with eight legs".

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    More credible ? No !!

    Bring on the magneto-rheological materials and phase-change thingamajigs ! I want a Transformers car that can shapeshift into a helicopter for the purpose of landing in the office parking.

  6. Dave

    seems a bit of a waste of 3M3 bucks

    to design a thing that can remember how to fold itself back into shape; I wanna see magneto-rheo-memeo-squashatrons for that sort of money.

    Oh! pink ones, please!

  7. Kenneth Chan

    3.3 Millions??? Lots of Civilians applications....

    3.3 Millions is a tiny project for DARPA. That said imagine a Roomba with a super flex-o-matic hose that reaches all those pesky corner, or between shelfs. Should make a great back scratcher as well. But be careful re-flashing the firm ware on your Roomba, it might change into T2,,,,

  8. Chris Miller


    By the lord Harry, are you denying the word of the One True Dictionary (OED)! What on earth are they smoking over there in the University of the Fens? Even Chambers (for all you crossword/Scrabble fiends) states simply that "octopi is wrong".

    Of course, dictionaries strive to record a language as it is used, which includes common abusage. But I'm afraid that to speak of 'octopi' only serves to reveal a combination of pretentiousness (by avoiding the anglicized plural) and ignorance (of the classical root of the word).

  9. Fluffykins Silver badge

    I got a droid that can get thru a small opening.

    It's a tank. It just makes the opening big enough THEN goes through.

    Probably squashing any octopusses on the way

  10. Anonymous Coward

    If they're anything like

    If Chembots are like Fembots, I want mine right now. Anyway, that

    "open up a few backdoors, in a security sense" or any other sense could be bad news if it was my backdoor. Getting my coat now...

  11. Anonymous John

    "They're the wrong shape.

    These aren't the droids we're looking for."

  12. fluffy


    I'd have written that as 33e5, personally.

  13. Pyros

    A proctologist's best friend...

    Okay, okay, I'm getting my coat now...

  14. Morten Ranulf Clausen
    Black Helicopters


    It's a ratbot. Be prepared to be spied upon in the bog...

    I for one welcome our new ratbot overlords. *gulp*

  15. Jon Tocker

    @ Pyros

    Yeah, regretably that was an image that crossed my mind as well - given that this is DARPA-funded, methinks an intrusive robot designed to get into small openings, reshape and "perform a function" might be quite popular with the - errrm - "information facilitation specialists" at Guantanamo Bay...

  16. Rick Giles

    Remember the Matrix?

    Ooohh look, Squiddies!

    <Tux cause the Matrix will run on the Linux kernel 42.0>

  17. Chris G Silver badge


    One of the reasons English spelling is so odd is because until the evolution of printing there was no formal spelling for any particular word, and ever since the earliest dictionaries spellings have evolved. The same applies to spoken language, it evolves. I doubt if an 18th century Londoner would understand immediately a 21st century kid from London.The point about language is to communicate, if current usage is such that everyone understands `octopi´ to describe the plural of octopus then really that is the correct word. Incidentally my English teacher some forty years ago informed me that octopi was the correct form for the plural. At the end of the day who gives a toss if you know what is being said?

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