Inventors say that the robot's ability to divide into many parts, and then join together, will make it potentially useful for delivering drugs to the human body.
The human body is full of windy, narrow passageways and almost impermeable barriers too tight for any robot visible to the naked eye. Microbots are what you need: they are small enough to squeeze into any tiny space.
Unfortunately, their tiny size is achieved by reducing the ability to carry enough materials to meet the needs of whole organs.
A form-changing robot can solve this problem by turning into a ray and then reunifying it as soon as it reaches its final destination.
In a recent study, a group of international scientists built a robot from "ferroidity", a suspension of iron oxide and hydrocarbon oil.
They used rotating spherical magnets to influence the substance in such a way that it bursts into many parts or pulls out to move through narrow passages.
To demonstrate the potential utility of the robot in crossing arteries and capillaries of the human body, researchers built a maze with large and narrow areas.
Once separated, the robot will be able to successfully reach the end of the maze, and then regain its shape.