Air compressors could have an important and life-saving role to play in armed combat in the years ahead, as one company has filed a patent in the US to add inflatable robotic arms to anti-bomb robots.

The patent was filed by iRobot, a company more familiar to many people for creating the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner.

But their new innovation would see dual-membrane inflatable arms added to robots used to find and defuse bombs in war zones.

The inner membrane contains compressed gas, while the outer membrane simply restricts the shape of the inflated arm – making a “dual-layer tensegrity structure”.

By using this kind of structure, rather than a solid metal arm, the overall weight of the robot can be reduced, making it easier to transport between suspected bomb sites.

In this way, compact air compressors are enabling such innovation to overcome the challenges presented by bulky and cumbersome equipment.

New Scientist, reporting on the patent filing, added that there are other potential benefits too, as the inflatable arm would be less likely to cause direct injury if it were to collide with a human during use.