Meet King Louie The Inflatable Robot From NASA

Meet King Louie The Inflatable Robot From NASA

For those of you who do not recall, King Louie was the rowdy orangutan in Jungle Book and this robot has been named after him. NASA believes that robots can be a huge help in space, either carrying out remote explorations or going where humans cannot or do not want to tread. It seems that they will not be like the ones in the science fiction movies though as the latest offering is King Louie the inflatable robot.

It has been said it looks more like something from a Thanksgiving Day Parade than a robot, but it is giving a glimpse of what the future of robotics could be.

King Louie The Inflatable Robot Is Full Of Air

Robots such as this are basically made up of bags of air that is surrounded by a fabric covering that is really strong. Inflating or deflating different chambers within its limbs controls the movement. Just as an example, inflating a chamber on the bottom of its arm makes the arm move up and inflating one on the top makes the arm move down.

As such, they work in a similar way to the muscles in humans where they contract and relax. Using only air pumped into joints, Marc Killpack, a Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Brigham Young University e=where the project was worked on, estimates that the robots current payload capacity is the same as a more traditional robot.

King Louie In Space

Using inflatable robots in space makes sense when you consider that one of the biggest problems is related to weight when equipment is being sent off into this unknown world. This is why organizations such as NASA have invested so heavily in 3D printing, the thinking being that rather than having to bear the cost of transporting their equipment into space, they could print what is needed as and when.

Inflatable robots offer the same sort of promise, which is why NASA funded the development of King Louie. They are possible alternatives to more traditional robotic arms or humanoid robots on rovers, shuttles and space stations but without the initial problems involved with transportation.

They would also not pose the same physical dangers to humans that a hard robot could when they are working together in cramped conditions.

NASA Has Ideas For An Earthbound King Louie

NASA says that although they were always working on King Louie for space, as the robot has been developed other ideas have come to mind. It could be used in several different earthbound situations, such as home assistance, in hospitals or in search and rescue. Because they will be easy to transport to wherever they are needed, inflatable robots are likely to become very popular, especially where whatever they are doing involves them being around humans.

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