A USF professor in Tampa is doing cutting edge research to create a robot with animal-like legs.

Robots used to be pipe dreams on TV and in movies. Now they’re a part of people’s daily lives, and they’re constantly changing the world around them.

USF Professor Luther Palmer hopes that someday his robot can go on a mission to Mars or some other outer planet, support troops in combat, or rescue people from burning buildings.

“There’s almost no place that legged systems can’t go,” said Palmer. “So we’re not really trying to create robotic squirrels, we’re just trying to emulate what squirrels do well.”

Its all-terrain capabilities are what set this robot apart from so many others.

“I got into robotics to build the Terminator robot," said Palmer. "The robots that we’re building are kind of stair steps toward that goal, it’s really the work of a lifetime.”

Palmer believes some of the applications may only be a few years away. Outer space may be more like 10 years away.

Palmer said it would truly be his greatest accomplishment if the robot ever goes on a space shuttle or leaves the Earth’s atmosphere.

The project is years in the making.

Palmer’s latest grant just expired, and he’s working with NASA to secure more funding.