DENVER (KDVR) — A team of engineers at the University of Colorado Boulder continues to workshop a small robot that could help first responders in major disasters.

According to CU Boulder Today, the robot, named CLARI, weighs less than a ping-pong ball and can fit in the palm of your hand. The tiny robot was introduced in a report published Aug. 30 in the journal “Advanced Intelligent Systems.”

The CLARI mini-robot created by Kaushik Jayaram, assistant professor, mechanical engineering and Heiko Kabutz, PhD student, mechanical engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder. (Photo by Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado)

In the article, Daniel Strain writes that the plan is for CLARI to fit into small spaces that people can’t. The robot is being designed to crawl in spaces like the inside of a jet engine or between the rubble of a collapsed building. CLARI has the ability to change shape from square (1.3 inches wide) to long (0.8 inches wide) when it can’t fit into a space.

“Most robots today basically look like a cube,” said Kaushik Jayaram, co-author of the study and an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at CU Boulder. “Why should they all be the same? Animals come in all shapes and sizes.”

As of now, CLARI is still under production. The machine currently has four legs, but the design allows the team to add eight legs. It’s also still bound in wires, but the goal is for the robot to move independently with basic commands.

“What we want are general-purpose robots that can change shape and adapt to whatever the environmental conditions are,” Jayaram said to Strain. “In the animal world, that might be something like an amoeba, which has no well-defined shape but can change depending on whether it needs to move fast or engulf some food.”