Scientists from GE have demonstrated the tunneling capabilities of its prototype earthworm-inspired robot.

With funding from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Underminer program, the prototype can now autonomously tunnel underground via pneumatic artificial muscles.

According to developers, the prototype soft robot quickly and efficiently created a 10 cm diameter tunnel under extreme and rugged conditions at GE’s Research campus in Niskayuna, New York.

The earthworm robot, which was designed to show how soft robots can move through confined spaces and make sharp turns, could potentially be used for repair and inspection tasks in addition to tunneling applications. It has been in development for more than a year.

To see the prototype in action, watch the accompanying video that appears courtesy of GE.

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