from the Tinker-Toys-IN-SPAAACE dept.
"NASA is testing out some new designs for robots based on Tensegrity (Short for Tensional Integrity, a principle Buckminster Fuller helped develop). The idea is that you have rigid rods joined by flexible joints and cables, which gives you a highly-resilient and flexible structure. NASA calls it the Super Ball Bot "for its ability to bounce on landing and shift its shape via multiple small motors to roll across a surface."
There are still plenty of problems to be solved, the positive attributes mean they're currently investigating the option of simultaneously deploying many of them to the surface of a planet directly from orbit."