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Robot Snakes Now With Partitioned Gait

Sure, you've read articles about snake robots, just type "snake robot" into the search box at the top of this page. But Johns Hopkins University roboticists are working hard at improving snake robots by giving them gait partitioning.

Li and his team ran a series of experiments that changed step height and surface friction to observe how the snakes contorted their bodies in response to these barriers. They found that snakes partitioned their bodies into three movement sections: a front and rear section wriggled back and forth on the horizontal steps like a wave, while the section between remained stiff, hovering just so, to bridge the height of the step. The wriggling portions, they noticed, provided stability to keep the snake from tipping over...

At first, the robot snake had difficulty staying stable on large steps and often wobbled and flipped over or got stuck on the steps. To address these issues, the researchers inserted a suspension system (like that in a vehicle) into each body segment so it could compress against the surface when needed. After this, the snake robot was less wobbly, more stable, and climbed steps as high as 38% of its body length with a nearly 100% success rate.

Compared to snake robots from other studies, Li's snake robot was speedier and more stable than all but one, and even came close to mimicking the actual snake's speed.

(Via Johns Hopkins.)

Science fiction fans, and fans of Greg Bear in particular, will enjoy reading the description of his robot snake spy from Mariposa (2009).

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/21/2021)

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