• Researchers built robotic snake to help in search and rescue projects 
  • Scientists observed how snakes moved and utilized the information to make the robot
  • Cheng Li, at Johns Hopkins College, mentioned that people look to snakes for motion inspiration

Scientists developed a robot snake to advance their research within the field of search and rescue devices.

The hope is the robots may one day assist in exploring terrain which cannot be accessed, such as rubble after an earthquake has taken place.

Scientists considered how snakes moved and utilized the information to make a robot that can rapidly climb large steps.

Cheng Li, from the engineering department at Johns Hopkins College, mentioned that people look to snakes for motion inspiration because they are already quite adept at scaling objects such as rocks and trees.

The hope is their robotic snake can learn to maneuver through surfaces in the same way that snakes.

Research that was done earlier observed the actions of the snake on flat surfaces though it was not often tested in 3D terrain apart from bushes. Li claimed these did not account for the real-life obstacles resembling the rubble items which the search and rescue robots had to scale.

Through a series of studies and experiments, it was found that snakes partitioned the body into three sections. The front and the back of the snake would wriggle back and forth on horizontal steps, much like a wave.

The middle of the body though, remained stiff and usually hovered so it can bridge the next step.

The front and the back gave stability to the snake to keep the reptile from tipping over.

As more of the snake goes into the step, the front part gets longer while the rear becomes shorter. The middle remains the same length, but it is perpetually suspended between the two steps and is rigid.

The team made their robot to imitate the movements of the snake. According to Li’s research group, compared to the robotic snakes of other studies, this iteration is stronger and more stable.

It even came close to matching the speed of a real snake.

Researchers studied the king-snake, which is found in deserts and certain forests. A specimen was made to climb the steps in the research team’s terra-dynamics lab.

He stated these snakes have to go through fallen bushes and boulders repeatedly. There is a lot that can be studied about them, and from there, secrets of motion can be gleaned.

However, the body suspension system had to keep the robot as stable as possible for the large steps meaning the robot would utilize a substantial amount of power.

Li added the animal version is still better, but the results are promising for the robotic field.

Robot Pixabay