Robotic ‘skin’ transforms stuffed animals into soft bots. And that’s just the beginning.

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What if you could turn a stuffed animal into a robot?

It’s not an idle question. Researchers at Yale University have developed “robotic skins” that can be wrapped around everyday objects to turn them into soft robots that can move, grasp, and even — in a crude way — walk.

The skins are made of elastic sheets embedded with sensors and remotely operated actuators, which work together to create the makeshift bots. In recent tests, a plush horse wrapped with the skin was able to move its legs and a skinny foam tube was turned into a wriggling robo-worm.

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That may sound silly, but the scientists have serious applications in mind.

Rebecca Kramer-Bottiglio, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at the university and the leader of the research, said robots improvised on the fly could perform important tasks in disaster zones and other hazardous settings.

“A designer could quickly construct a robot using the robotic skins wrapped around whatever deformable materials they have access to and stick a camera on it, and then deploy the robot for exploration of small or dangerous spaces,” she told NBC News MACH in an email. “Robotic skins can be applied to, removed from, and transferred between different objects, and used in combination to create many different configurations to perform many different tasks.”