Scientists have finally come up with a new one. Studying the way the venomous sidewinder rattlesnake moves on sand and taking that information digitally and programming a robot to imitate it.
The robotic snake has sensors, a processor, and other equipment along a series of joints and links that enable it to move like a sidewinder rattlesnake does and not only that but on a sandy incline.
At first the researchers had to figure out how a sidewinder moves and used high speed video to capture the creatures movements. When they did that they were able to analyze the data and solve that locomotion mystery. As it turns out the snake could lift one part of its body vertically and the other part horizontally. This allowed for the snake to move smoothly with the least amount of energy. As for moving on sand, the researchers imported lots of sand from the snake’s native Arizona desert and put that sand in an enclosure that had a platform that could be raised creating an incline. The snake then navigated up the incline and the scientists recorded that data. They took that data and incorporated it into the robot or robosnake as it’s called.
True to form, the project worked but limitations still only allowed for the robosnake to move up a 20% incline maximum. The scientists also tested around 13 other species of snakes on the incline and found only one could manage the climb.
The applications of this experiment are many. One is that such robots could move and access terrain hitherto inaccessible and gather intelligence or take part in rescue operations. Other applications could involve everything from military to even toys.
The team of physicists came from Georgia Tech, Carnegie Melon University, and Zoo Atlanta. The robosnake was developed by the Carnegie Mellon team and consists of 16 modules that measure about a meter in length.
Imitating nature has been done before with inventions but now because of advanced robotics and computers as well as data collecting sensors and remote control, robotics experts can make far more sophisticated robots to the point of even fooling the public. We’ve seen it in toys for decades but those toys are far less sophisticated than what today’s robotics are coming up with. Researchers are studying the movements of other animals from fish to spiders and the final products that will aid society overall.