Can a robot be a hero? Not exactly. But the scientists who develop lifesaving robots certainly are.

Right now, researchers are coming up with innovative ways to reduce the danger our first responders face by building machines that can be guided through dangerous smoke, rubble, fire, water, and more.

In the video above, check out a new robot developed by Stanford researchers that grows like a plant rather than moving like an animal:

Created by researchers at Stanford University and the University of California, Santa Barbara, this flexible, vine-like robot is capable of growing up to 236 feet in length by pumping itself full of air.

By doing this, it can snake through complex environments, lifting objects, and extending through gaps just 10 percent of its diameter. Because of its hose-like design, the robot could be used for moving materials from rescuers to whoever needed to be rescued.

“One of the areas we’re most interested in is search and rescue,” Professor Elliot Hawkes, lead researcher on the project, told Digital Trends. “We imagine growing the robots through rubble and debris to help find trapped survivors. The robot could deliver water or oxygen to the survivor, and possibly pry rubble off the survivor.”

Scientists are also busy working on firefighter robots, underwater robots, and airborne search-and-rescue robots. Meet more of the robots that could someday save your life.

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