When we think of futuristic robots, impeccably shiny metal chassis, gleeful tinny voices, and other anthropomorphic accoutrements come to mind.

But researchers at Japan's Chiba Institute of Technology are bucking this trend with the Slug Crawler Vehicle (SCV), a tiny machine enveloped in a tread-like casing designed to protect it from the elements. Watch this little lump in action, and understand that its creators are gunning to build bigger, squishier models.

The Chiba teams hopes to outfit the SCV with cameras and telepresence technology for use in search-and-rescue operations. As disconcertingly blob-like as the SCV looks in motion, its casing prevents dust and dirt from mucking up its mechanics. I'm not opposed to a future where our machines are less Threepio, more Rover.

["Development of the high strength retractable skin and the closed type crawler vehicle" via IEEE Spectrum]