the robot is called ‘TETwalker’ for tetrahedral walker, because it resembles a tetrahedron (a pyramid with 3 sides and a base). in the prototype, electric motors are located at the corners of the pyramid called nodes. the nodes are connected to struts which form the sides of the pyramid. the struts telescope like the legs of a camera tripod, and the motors expand and retract the struts. this allows the pyramid to move: changing the length of its sides alters the pyramid’s center of gravity, causing it to topple over. the nodes also pivot, giving the robot great flexibility. robots of this type will eventually be miniaturized and joined together to form ‘autonomous nanotechnology swarms’ (ANTS) that alter their shape to flow over rocky terrain or to create useful structures like communications antennae and solar sails. this technology has the potential to directly support NASA’s vision for space exploration. in january 2005, the prototype was shipped to mcmurdo station in antarctica to test it under harsh conditions more like those on mars. via slashdot