Are you afraid of snakes? What about robots? What about snake robots?
Now here’s one of those new innovations in robotics that’s solving problems by combining two things that don’t quite seem to go together at first thought.
Today Ever Widening Circles will take you on a little journey of possibility when it comes to pure ingenuity.
Did you ever stop to ask yourself why most of us envision the human form when we think of the word “Robot?” What if the real potential of robotics lies with thinking outside that box? Here’s your introduction to snake robotics!
Having the flexibility and movements of a slithering reptile allows these robots to squeeze into spaces that their human-form, mechanical cousins, and we humans, haven’t been able to explore. They will can do so much more! We will be able to identify structural problems in hidden places, perform minimally invasive surgery, and find survivors in fragile search and rescue missions (to name a few applications).
This impressive innovation, which obviously has adopted its looks from a little friend in nature, is just one incredible example of biomimicry; a growing field of science at the intersection of engineering, design, and biology.
Here’s a quick look at where we are going today…
After we get over the impulse to recoil from how snake-like it is, we can see that this robot has some incredible abilities and applications. Can you even imagine what it will be able to do underwater? Check it out in action in this video from HiBot.
So, what really is the potential for the snake robot?
Just think of the many dirty jobs that, performed by humans, endanger lives. Or the jobs that require access to small spaces, spaces that even conventional robots, with limbs or wheels, could never access. Consider the possibility of assisting in minimally-invasive surgery, for inspection of power plants, for aiding in search and rescue efforts, in archaeological digs.
When you think about all of the 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 an immense amount of potential.
Here’s a short, exceptionally informative video, from the Engadget Expand that explores the reaches of this potential.
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 else should we care?
Simply put, inventions like the snake robot remind us to look to nature in our search for solutions to our many problems.
Just 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, “Biomimetics” – 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 Need to Solve a Problem? Turn to Nature!. Or another that gets shared a lot is called, Turning Birds into Dinosaurs.
“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”-Victor Borge
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- “Snake Robot Climbs a Tree.” YouTube. Cmurobotics, 5 Aug. 2010. Web. 26 Jan. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VLjDjXzTiU>. ↩
- “HiBot NEW ACM-R5H Amphibious Snake Robot.” YouTube. Michele Guarnieri, 5 Nov. 2013. Web. 26 Jan. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PC2hsu0jTbo>. ↩
- “Carnegie Mellon Modular Snake Demo | Engadget Expand 2013.” YouTube. Engadget, 12 Nov. 2013. Web. 26 Jan. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oat582SaTko>. ↩