Snake Robots: Can you watch this without squirming?

Posted on December 11, 2015 by Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

Are you, like many, afraid of snakes? What about robots? What about snake robots?

Image: Snake Robots
Source: NICO ZEVALLOS AND CHAOHUI GONG

How about we put that in an innovative light? Today we Ever Widening Circles brings you the story of robots with the advantages of a snakes.

Now here’s an idea that is truly “outside the box!” This innovation, which uses nature for inspiration, is just one incredible example of biomimicry; a growing field of science at the intersection of engineering, design, and biology.

First, a quick look at where we are going today…

 

So let’s have a look at the backstory to see where this technology started:

Source: Live Science

Ok, now we are on some firm footing, let’s get to the potential here.

After we get over the impulse to recoil from how snake-like it is, you will see that the snake robot has some incredible abilities and applications, about which we will soon learn more. But first, let’s take a look at the possibilities for underwater applications:

What is the potential for the snake robot?

Consider the many dirty jobs that, performed by humans, endanger lives, or jobs that require access to small spaces, spaces that even conventional robots, with limbs or wheels, could never access.   Consider the possibility for assisting in minimally-invasive surgery, for inspection of power plants, for aiding in search and rescue efforts, in archaeological digs.

When one considers the many fields of work and disciplines of study in which we humans are engaged, and the number of associated problems we are trying to solve, it becomes clear that the snake robot has a lot of potential indeed!

We found a short video from a conference that explores the reaches of the snake robot’s potential. Let’s take a little trip into the future of this extraordinary technology, with a video courtesy of the Huffington Post:

 

Via: Engadget 3

If you’d like to read more about the snake robot story, here’s a link to a darn good article by Fox News called Snake Robots: Slithering machines could aid search and rescue efforts

Snake robots aren’t just interesting creepy crawlies, they offer us a chance to explore our world and enhance our experience.

Why should we care?

Most importantly, inventions like the snake robot remind us to look to nature in our search for solutions to our many problems.

Think about it for a moment: humans have been perking along, solving problems with clever inventions since the dawn of simple machines like the wheel. That’s about 5,500 years. But Mother Nature has been barreling along, solving every challenge an organism can face on this earth for 3.5 billion years!

That’s a lot of “research and development” and “institutional knowledge” that we can tap into!

And that’s essentially what the new field of science I mentioned – called “Biomimicry”, or in professional circles, “Biomemetics” – is doing to make the world a better place.

If you’d like to check out a few other great articles we’ve done on that remarkable innovation of the future, I can recommend a great article we wrote called Biomimicry and the Floating Islands. Or another that gets shared a lot is called, Turning Birds into Dinosaurs.

And if you’ve got a little more time for wonder today…

Scroll down the page here to see six articles I can recommend with threads of connection to this one.

In fact, most of the articles you’ll find on Ever Widening Circles will demonstrate the connection and possibility that still exists in the world, despite what the negative 24-hour news cycle tells us.

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Meanwhile, keep your head up. There’s plenty to smile about here.

-Liesl
“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”-Victor Borge

Liesl can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV

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Liesl Ulrich-Verderber is a camera toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often floundering—yogi. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV

Notes:

  1. “Snake Robot Climbs a Tree.” YouTube. Cmurobotics, 5 Aug. 2010. Web. 26 Jan. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VLjDjXzTiU>.
  2. “HiBot NEW ACM-R5H Amphibious Snake Robot.” YouTube. Michele Guarnieri, 5 Nov. 2013. Web. 26 Jan. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PC2hsu0jTbo>.
  3. “Carnegie Mellon Modular Snake Demo | Engadget Expand 2013.” YouTube. Engadget, 12 Nov. 2013. Web. 26 Jan. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oat582SaTko>.