Squishy Robotics in Popular Mechanics

Agogino’s NASA spin-off in Popular Mechanics.


Two years ago, Alice Agogino, a UC-Berkeley mechanical engineering professor, was working on a contract to build exploratory robots for NASA Ames. She had been recruited to help design what would eventually become a fleet of mobile, ultra-impact-resistant, remote-sensing robots that could protect sensitive scientific equipment during a drop from orbit onto the surface of a moon—specifically Titan, an ice-covered moon of Saturn.

But then she read a report that brought her research back down to Earth.

The report, from the International Red Cross and Crescent, suggested that a generous portion of casualties among first responders—emergency workers tasked with initial disaster management—could be linked to poor situational awareness on the ground.

Suddenly, Agogino recognized the potential for a brand-new use for her robots.