Recently, the U.S. researchers have portrayed for the first time how ‘sidewinder’ rattlesnakes shin up sand mounds, with the help of a robot.
The researchers observed snakes on an artificial mound, finding that the snakes often flatten themselves on the steeper slopes to increase their contact with the sand.
Moreover, the researchers tested the new insights with the help of a robotic snake and described the best strategy for the snakes that how to balance the sandy slope without slipping.
This study is published in the ‘Science’ Magazine.
The researchers explained that, unhinged, grainy surfaces such as sand mounds cause a scrupulous problem for animals and robots trying to traverse them.
Dr Daniel Goldman, senior author, who runs a biomechanics lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology stated, “We actually hypothesized the way snakes could climb will be by digging out their bodies deep into sand, the same as we would do on a sandy slope.”
However, that’s not what he and his colleagues found, but as they painted reflective markers vigilantly on to 6 noxious rattlesnakes and put them in tilting sand, which they call home.
Dr. Goldman told BBC, “The most striking thing for us was how nice these animals are as subjects, they lean to just sidewind on command.”
Another surprise, captured by our high-resolution video cameras was that rather than digging in for extra purchase, these rattlesnakes trampled themselves smoothly against the sandy surface, every time we skewed the ‘mound’ more orderly.
In addition, these are just sidewinding rattlesnake also known as ‘Crotalus Cerastes’ that used this strategy. The researchers also put 13 other species of pit viper with the same challenge, tried other squirming techniques and got nowhere, with the exemption of one: a stippled rattlesnake that inched its way very slowly up the incline using a concertina motion.
Furthermore, Dr. Goldman said, “sidewinders can ascend any sand mound we threw at them.”
Dr. Goldman and his colleagues also contacted robotics engineers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh in order to test out their results in detail.
Elizabeth, a robot, which had failed in Egypt, slipping and falling on a steep slope in an archaeological site.
So, the robotic engineers took Elizabeth to the artificial mound that Dr. Goldman and his team had built in a shed out back of Atlanta Zoo in order to see what they could learn. Not surprisingly, the robot’s performance improved.
Andrew Graham, who is the technical director at Bristol Company (OC Robotics), particularly specializes in snake like robots. He stated that, though the Carnegie Mellon team was quite famous for their sidewinding designs, the novel study was a thorough examination of the efficacy of the process.
He further told BBC News, “They have looked deeply into the entire matter, end to end, and illustrated the application of what they have observed in nature to a robotic model.”
He added that these new rattlesnake insights would possibly help Prof Choset’s robots to become more effective and applicable to distinctive environments.