A team of scientists have created a robot capable of mimicking real snake movement based on their extensive research of Rattlesnakes, creating a robot that is capable of taking rapid, sharp turns, similarly to the real thing.
The researchers teams up with experts at Zoo Atlanta to study the motions of sidewinding snakes before utilising their observations in their own robot. Their observations reveal two distinct waves in the motion of sidewinding snakes; vertical and horizontal, both of which they were able to successfully recreate.
“We’ve been programming snake robots for years and have figured out how to get these robots to crawl amidst rubble and through or around pipes,” said Howie Choset, one of the researchers involved in the project.
“By learning from real sidewinders, however, we can make these maneuvers much more efficient and simplify user control. This makes our modular robots much more valuable as tools for urban search-and-rescue tasks, power plant inspections and even archaeological exploration.”
By using an earlier model and method of analysis the movements of live snakes, the team saw that sidewinding snakes make gradual changes in direction by modifying their horizontal wave motion whilst keeping their vertical wave constant. They also identified that by making a large shift in the vertical wave, snakes were able to make sharp turns in the complete opposite direction.
“By looking for insights in nature, we were able to dramatically improve the control and maneuverability of the robot while at the same time using the robot as a tool to test the theorized control mechanisms of biological sidewinders.” said researcher Henry Astley.
The robot is capable of tackling tough terrain and is able to make manoeuvres similar to real snakes that other robots aren’t able to.
The research team’s findings were published in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.