Robotic Snakes

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science have recently developed several models of robotic snakes. Nicknamed ‘snakebots’, these were shown to maneuver with surprising similarity to real, living snakes. Already the technology has attracted several potential customers and the scientists say it can be customized for various fields.
Carnegie Mellon's Robotic Snake (Source: Carnegie Mellon University)
Carnegie Mellon’s Robotic Snake
(Source: Carnegie Mellon University)

Carnegie Mellon’s robotic research tends to make news at least once every few months. Now, it is due to a technology demonstrated in this latest YouTube video, in which a snakebot can be seen climbing a pole, passing through a fence and rolling down stairs.

The advantages of robotic snakes include stealth (which is an essential attribute for most surveillance operations) and durability, derived from their relatively simple structure. Since these robots include cameras (and offer the option to add a microphone), many reconnaissance and military forces have already shown interest in the development.

The recent attention snake robots received is due to their many internal degrees of freedom, which allow them to thread through tightly packed volumes and access secured locations. While any joint-based robot can crawl, climb or swim, these advanced ‘snakebots’ are even more versatile, achieving varied behaviors. According to Carnegie Mellon’s researchers, the robots’ modularity enables users to set its rigidity – thus affecting its durability and maneuvering ability.

TFOT has previously covered the Snake-Inspired Military Robot, developed by IDF, and Serpentine Climbing Robots, developed by RoMeLa of the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech. Other related TFOT stories include the Amphibious Snake-Like Robot, invented by the Hirose-Fukushima Robotics Lab in Japan, and the OmniTread- Snake-Shaped Robot, developed by a group of researchers from the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering.

For more information on Carnegie Mellon’s robotic snakes, see the university’s website.

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