The Meshworm, introduced Friday, inches along like an earthworm, or a sea cucumber (yes, despite the name, a sea cucumber is an animal), even. The method, dubbed peristalsis, involves alternately squeezing and stretching muscles along the length of an earthworm's body. It's the same way our esophagus works, squeezing muscles to push food to the stomach (catastalsis is a similar intestinal muscle process).
The Meshworm has a body made up of a flexible tube, with a thin wire "muscle" made of a nickel and titanium shape-memory alloy wound around it to create worm-like segments (see the embedded video).
To come up with the design, researchers studied earthworms and how their musculature functions.
Why bother with such a design? Scientists wanted to examine this type of locomotion because these types of animals are virtually unstoppable, even over extremely rough terrain. Also, a "soft robot" would be able to navigate through tight spaces.
As far as being the most disgusting robot ever developed, we don't find it disturbing at all. However, it does bring back (shudder) memories of the scene in Peter Jackson's King Kong with the giant leech / worm things, in the canyon. We could have done without that scene.