They slither and they oftentimes hiss, but these particular snakes do more than that; they have the ability to aid in search and rescue!
What do you get when you combine the innovative minds from The Georgia Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, Oregon State University and Zoo Atlanta? The answer is a robotic snake!
At Inventionland, we found this story to be particularly interesting and exciting for a couple of reasons, one of them being that one of the schools (Carnegie Mellon University) that’s involved in this innovative project is from Inventionland’s hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania!
With that being said, let’s get down to the core of why this invention interested us and its great potential for aiding with search and rescue.
Snakelike robots are sparking the interest of scientists for a few reasons. To begin, they lack legs, tracks or wheels, which means that the chances of them getting stuck in ruts or slowed down by bumps in their path is very low. Also, these types of robots can be used in areas that other robots can’t access and they can explore places that aren’t particularly safe for humans.
The sidewinder snake’s quick reflexes and ability to efficiently climb both sandy hills and slopes was the focus of the researchers’ study.
In particular, they wanted to know how the sidewinder snake moved. After lots of observation, they deduced that the sidewinder snake climbs slopes by “simply increasing the amount of their body area in contact with the granular surfaces they’re climbing.”
So, with that information in mind, the researchers went to work to construct the robotic snake that, at first, was only able to move across level ground, but now can climb sandy surfaces, too.
In order for the robotic snake to move over sandy dunes, the researchers used the knowledge that they gathered along the way to program the robot so that more of its body would come in contact with the ground as it moved up a slope. Furthermore, they applied the information that they knew about force, which helps the robot move its weight in a way that it keeps moving upward over the sand without toppling over and falling back down the slope.
What exactly does the research team plan on using this robotic snake for? For starters, they plan to use the information that they gathered from the sidewinder snake to better adapt its robotic abilities for a variety of terrains, even extraterrestrial terrain!
It seems as though the opportunities are endless when it comes to the abilities of this robotic snake, so only time will tell where these innovative snakes will slither to next!
Copyright Inventionland, 2014