Squishy Robotics at TechCrunch

Squishy Robotics was invited to demo at TechCrunch Robotics+AI on Thursday, April 18, 2019. Alice Agogino, CEO of Squishy Robotics and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at UC Berkeley, led the demo through backdrop videos of field testing, supplemented by stage demos by the Squishy Robotics team. Notably lead mechatronics engineer Doug Hutchings threw a stationary tensegrity across the stage and he and mechatronics engineer Anthony Thompson played pitch and catch with another tensegrity to demonstrate how Squishy Robotics compliant structures protect them during high impacts. This also demonstrates how the “squishy” properties makes then safe around humans, allowing them to be co-robots or partners to human-robotic teams.

Lead Mechatronics Engineer Throwing Squishy Stationary Robot Across the Stage.

TechCrunch journalist Devin Coldeway published an article titled: How Squishy Robotics created a robot that can be safely dropped out of a helicopter that was released the day of the demo.


The startup has been operating more or less in stealth mode, emerging publicly today onstage at our Robotics + AI Sessions event in Berkeley, Calif. It began, co-founder and CEO Alice Agogino told me, as a project connected to NASA Ames a few years back.

“The original idea was to have a robot that could be dropped from a spacecraft and survive the fall,” said Agogino. “But I could tell this tech had earthly applications.”

Her reason for thinking so was learning that first responders were losing their lives due to poor situational awareness in areas they were being deployed. It’s hard to tell without actually being right there that a toxic gas is lying close to the ground, or that there is a downed electrical line hidden under a fallen tree, and so on.

Robots are well-suited to this type of reconnaissance, but it’s a bit of a Catch-22: You have to get close to deploy a robot, but you need the robot there to get close enough in the first place. Unless, of course, you can somehow deploy the robot from the air. This is already done, but it’s rather clumsy: picture a wheeled bot floating down under a parachute, missing its mark by a hundred feet due to high winds or getting tangled in its own cords.

Squishy’s solution can’t quite be dropped from orbit, as the original plan was for exploring Saturn’s moon Titan, but they can fall from 600 feet, and likely much more than that, and function perfectly well afterwards. It’s all because of the unique “tensegrity structure . . .

Squishy Robotics, Inc. has received seed funding from the SkyDeck Fund and non-dilutive funding from the National Science Foundation with SBIR (#1747189) and I-Corp (#1748774) grants.

See the full article at TechCrunch and video of TechCrunch presentation moderated by Caroline Winnett, Executive Director of Berkeley SkyDeck.

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Top caption photo (left to right): Prasad Gaikwad, Jovin Foo, Zining Wang, Douglas Hutchins, Alice Agogino, Anthony Thompson, Brian Cera, Mason Friedberg, Deniz Dogruer, and Joshua Peterson.