A comparative review of actuation technologies is presented. Innovative mechanisms ideas that combine high force and deflection are described. Flexible smart actuators are obtained utilizing real time adaptive biomorphic controls. Such flexible smart actuators constitute an enabling technology for a variety of biomorphic systems ranging from small, agile biomorphic explorers that emulate biological mobility to much larger humanoid or anthropomorphic system. Due to their potential ability to explore difficult, hard- to-find terrain, biomorphic explorers are promising for a variety for application in law enforcement, hazardous environment inspection, toxic waster avoidance/elimination, law enforcement, hazardous environment inspection, toxic waste avoidance/elimination, law enforcement, and search/rescue in disaster areas such as earthquake sites. The control mechanisms used for the actuators are based on biological principles. For example, a neurally inspired controller provides a mapping between the current state of the robot and a target internal configuration. Innovative fordable advanced mobility mechanisms in combination with multipod techniques inspired by peristalsis in an earthworm robot are described. Flexible actuators offer the versatility of both shape control as well as mobility attribute control.