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Robot Snake Can Climb Trees

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the as-long-as-they-aren't-on-planes dept.

Robotics 90

kkleiner writes "The latest in a line of 'modsnakes' from Carnegie Mellon's Biorobotics Lab, Uncle Sam can move in a variety of different ways, including rolling, wiggling, and side-winding. It can also wrap itself around a pole and climb vertically, and even scale a tree. You have to watch this thing in action. There is something incredibly life-like and eerie about the way it scales the tree outdoors and then looks around with its camera 'eye.' Projects like Uncle Sam show how life-mimicking machines could revolutionize robotics in the near future."

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Robot Snake for the Anus (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33500040)

Currently only available in Japan.

In the near future... (1)

Semiclear (577667) | about 4 years ago | (#33500046)

...robots revolutionize you!

Re:In the near future... (1)

ISoldat53 (977164) | about 4 years ago | (#33500314)

If you want a revolution. Make a robot that can sew a shirt.

Re:In the near future... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33501036)

Nike has those. They call them employees, they start at age 9, and they make 34 cents per week.

Re:In the near future... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#33501276)

In the near past as well. Almost everything you own was made at least partly by robots. Indistrial robots have been around a couple of decades at least.

Re:In the near future... (1)

camperslo (704715) | about 4 years ago | (#33503640)

Should one call a doctor if these snakes climb for more than four hours?

Uh-oh (1)

Wocka_Wocka (1895714) | about 4 years ago | (#33500078)

Looks like all of the robot birds are going to have to figure out new tactics to avoid being eaten.

Fucking Flash again (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33500116)

Why the hell do people keep using Flash just to play a godamn video? HTML5 is here today, take advantage of it you fuckers! Or do you just enjoy having less people be able to view your content?

Re:Fucking Flash again (4, Insightful)

pavon (30274) | about 4 years ago | (#33500376)

Because the person who posted the video on youtube (apparently an official CMU account) opted to show ads over the top of it. Youtube's HTML5 player doesn't have that feature right now (I imagine it could be done with a transparent div and javascript), so they fell back to Flash. Why CMU thinks they should be showing advertisements on what is already an advertisement for their school is beyond me.

Re:Fucking Flash again (1)

houghi (78078) | about 4 years ago | (#33501280)

Why CMU thinks they should be showing advertisements on what is already an advertisement for their school is beyond me.

Money? Sponsoring?

Re:Fucking Flash again (1)

tacarat (696339) | about 4 years ago | (#33501638)

Why CMU thinks they should be showing advertisements on what is already an advertisement for their school is beyond me.

The ads I get aren't for or from CMU and the .wmv download from the official website is disabled. Those are just the normal ads for vids hosted on youtube. At some point they had to look at the following options. 1) They can either pay for their own costs for a bunch of geek rubberneckers or 2) have youtube foot the bill, manage bandwidth issues and send them a check for served ads. Why wouldn't they with option #2?

Re:Fucking Flash again (2, Insightful)

bhartman34 (886109) | about 4 years ago | (#33500568)

Or do you just enjoy having less people be able to view your content?

Probably, it's a reluctance to learn a (relatively) new technology to satisfy the needs of 1% of a market, when the other 99% (those not using iPods, iPads, or mobile phones) can see the video just fine. When the market changes, and most people are viewing the sites on mobile devices, it'll make sense to change. Until then, why bother? It's not like people who have these other mobile devices don't have desktops or laptops.

Re:Fucking Flash again (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33502352)

Have you ever seen the processor usage on non-Windows platforms? It's so abysmal that I deleted Flash from all my systems. I don't need a plug-in to downgrade my computer like it's 1995 all over again.

Re:Fucking Flash again (0, Offtopic)

stephanruby (542433) | about 4 years ago | (#33504626)

When the market changes, and most people are viewing the sites on mobile devices, it'll make sense to change.

Speak for yourself, that video plays just fine on my HTC 4G Evo.

Re:Fucking Flash again (0, Offtopic)

bhartman34 (886109) | about 4 years ago | (#33504762)

Works on my Pre, too. I'm just saying it won't work with all mobiles.

Re:Fucking Flash again (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33502340)

It's out of sheer spite for any idiot who thinks they are cool enough to buy an iPad / iPhone.

Another in a line of great Skynet products! (1)

jbeach (852844) | about 4 years ago | (#33500130)

If we're going to have killer robots from the future, can they at least look like the Terminator women and hopefully screw us to death?

Perhaps that's coming with the next Apple upgrade.

Re:Another in a line of great Skynet products! (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 4 years ago | (#33500158)

Death by snu snu is from Futurama [wikipedia.org] , not Terminator.

awwwwww come on.... (2, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | about 4 years ago | (#33500254)

Dare to envision a brighter apocalypse for once in your life!

If I see that shit on zazzle.com, I better get my cut!

Re:Another in a line of great Skynet products! (1)

jbeach (852844) | about 4 years ago | (#33500306)

Why not both? They both have killer robots too. Make war love, not (just) war.

Re:Another in a line of great Skynet products! (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | about 4 years ago | (#33500228)

Creating armies would take too long and would be rather hard to conceal.

Much easier to mess with our computer systems [reuters.com] and just sit back and watch as we tear each other apart.

Re:Another in a line of great Skynet products! (1)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | about 4 years ago | (#33500534)

Creating armies would take too long and would be rather hard to conceal.

Just send Jango Fett to Geonosis. Hey, it worked for the Separatists

Re:Another in a line of great Skynet products! (1)

trentblase (717954) | about 4 years ago | (#33500924)

At some point, I believe the CMU robotics motto was "building robots today... to fight aliens tomorrow."

Scale that thing down, wrap it in synthetic skin.. (1)

d474 (695126) | about 4 years ago | (#33500132)

...and they may have just found lady's new best friend.

Re:Scale that thing down, wrap it in synthetic ski (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33500210)

...and they may have just found lady's new best friend.

I don't think that you gave your idea much thought. This thing is programmed to climb up from its starting position. We're talking 9, maybe 13 inches max of climbing distance in an aroused woman. From there, we're talking about a machine penetrating (word intended) internal organs.

Re:Scale that thing down, wrap it in synthetic ski (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33500766)

...and they may have just found lady's new best friend.

Man's best friend too! Or didn't you watch the video?

Re:Scale that thing down, wrap it in synthetic ski (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | about 4 years ago | (#33500828)

Why would a woman want a snake robot as a sex toy? I'm pretty sure it's already possible to buy a dildo that throbs for much cheaper.

Re:Scale that thing down, wrap it in synthetic ski (1)

camperslo (704715) | about 4 years ago | (#33503730)

Why would a woman want a snake robot as a sex toy?

Perhaps it has something to do with gerbils? [about.com]

Hey Japan! (1)

hex0D (1890162) | about 4 years ago | (#33500140)

we're waiting on the Rule 34 action with these things!

I see nothing snake-like here.. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33500146)

Other than not having limbs, this has little to do with a snake. This looks like a bunch of U-Joints with servo motors, its "rolling" up the tree, after "rolling" on the ground. A snake does not move this way.. No animal that I know of moves this way.

It's also obviously being controlled.. The AI to find a tree then decide to climb it (motivation?) would be really interesting.

This is neat, but I don't see anything to do with snakes here.. Which is a shame.. Many years ago for a Comp Sci project, I had to model a snake and it's movements (virtually -- it was an OpenGL assignment). It was really interesting to do, mimicking those thousands of coordinated muscles with electronics would be pretty fantastic. Of course, different snakes move differently .. a sidewinder basically walks on two virtual "feet", whereas a python crawls and climbs with hundreds of individual "feet".

Re:I see nothing snake-like here.. (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | about 4 years ago | (#33500648)

>> This is neat, but I don't see anything to do with snakes here.

Slashdot: News thats neat. Stuff about snakes.

Re:I see nothing snake-like here.. (2, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | about 4 years ago | (#33500746)

This is neat, but I don't see anything to do with snakes here.. Which is a shame.

I agree the writeup over-states the degree to which this robot is biomimetic, but why is that a bad thing? Evolution never even "discovered" the wheel.

You don't get out much.... (1)

rts008 (812749) | about 4 years ago | (#33502144)

Evolution never even "discovered" the wheel.

Apparently you have not encountered the insidious Hoop Snake! [wikipedia.org] ;-)

From the wiki:

The hoop snake is mentioned in a letter from 1784 (published in Tour in the U. S. A., Vol. I, p. 263-65. London)[3]:
" As other serpents crawl upon their bellies, so can this; but he has another method of moving peculiar to his own species, which he always adopts when he is in eager pursuit of his prey; he throws himself into a circle, running rapidly around, advancing like a hoop, with his tail arising and pointed forward in the circle, by which he is always in the ready position of striking.

It is observed that they only make use of this method in attacking; for when they fly from their enemy they go upon their bellies, like other serpents. From the above circumstance, peculiar to themselves, they have also derived the appellation of hoop snakes.

Oh, and watch out for the drop bears too. ;-)

Re:You don't get out much.... (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | about 4 years ago | (#33503912)

If you throw an oroborus on the ground,
it will roll because its round. (Appologies to Guy Lombardo's Silver Dollar)

Can it talk?

Re:You don't get out much.... (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | about 4 years ago | (#33504776)

Thank you so much for causing me to ask Wikipedia about drop bears. [wikipedia.org] From the article:

The game also features drop bear attacks and repellents. Purchase of the repellent, which cannot subsequently be discarded, dramatically increases the rate of drop bear attacks.

(Emphasis added.) This had me laughing out loud. Thank you. (And now I have a game [ambrosiasw.com] to try.)

Re:You don't get out much.... (1)

rts008 (812749) | about 4 years ago | (#33506052)

Glad I could be of service!
Thanks for the game hint...off to check it out.

Re:You don't get out much.... (1)

omni123 (1622083) | about 4 years ago | (#33528516)

You won't be disappointed. EV Nova is one of my favourite older games!

Re:I see nothing snake-like here.. (2, Insightful)

SunSpot505 (1356127) | about 4 years ago | (#33500826)

Nature is a fantastic designer. Sure, she works slowly, but every project is subjected to years of testing and refinement. It’s no wonder then that we see engineers looking to nature for inspiration in robotics.

After reading this quote I was thinking the same thing, and also wondering what snake they looked at... Did it have a broken spine?

I have a 80" arboreal python and it moves nothing like that on the ground or climbing a vertical post. Snakes don't twist on the ground, and most (arboreal) snakes don't wrap around trees like that either, as it is an extremely inefficient method of motion for moving. Watching how a real arboreal snake climbs a tree would have yielded a much better climber of a robot. In my experience snakes use large bends in their bodies as hands or feet that they use to grip the sides of the object. They can release the bends muscle tension and moves up the post, squeezing again, and repeating the process downwards. It looks like an inchworm, but with the inching movement perpendicular to the direction of movement and opposed to congruent. That I would like to see on a robot, and it seems like it would also fit well with the attempts at modular design they are working with.

I understand some of the excitement about this thing, but as a snake owner I am not even close to impressed, even if it had frickin' laser eyes. This thing looks a worm after a rain, not the delicate beauty and raw strength of a snake. Whatever happened to all that hydraulic muscular research I read about years ago? This would have been the ideal application rather than a bunch of universal joints...

Re:I see nothing snake-like here.. (1)

hapalibashi (1104507) | about 4 years ago | (#33501378)

" This thing looks a worm after a rain" A perfect description.

Re:I see nothing snake-like here.. (1)

ralfmuschall (1782380) | about 4 years ago | (#33502282)

The twisting on the ground looks like an attempt at sidewinding, but the videos at the linked site show that the robots can do that properly (maybe they need a good ground for that - but sidewinding *is* for flat grounds whereas undulation is OK for crawling among vegetables).
Rolling (both on the ground and as a method of climbing trees) is not that bad - it is easy for robots but hard for real snakes (whose scales are specialized for locomotory use only on the ventral side).
Btw., Gavin Miller (http://www.snakerobots.com/S3.html) made a working sidewinder back in 1996.

Re:I see nothing snake-like here.. (1)

Game_Ender (815505) | about 4 years ago | (#33501202)

It is fully capable of snake like gates, but since it can grip and move a little different then a snake they are experimenting with other gates to see what is effective. If rolling up the tree is optimal for their snake like robot why not do it?

Re:I see nothing snake-like here.. (1)

amaupin (721551) | about 4 years ago | (#33502208)

This looks like a bunch of U-Joints with servo motors, its "rolling" up the tree, after "rolling" on the ground.

It's also obviously being controlled..

Many years ago for a Comp Sci project, I had to model a snake and it's movements (virtually -- it was an OpenGL assignment).

Flipping a quarter to determine which of its/it's to use isn't the best way, man! But hey, you lucked out and got one right!

(I tease because I can - I learned the difference between the two uses in school! Agreed completely about the robosnake, by the way.)

Re:I see nothing snake-like here.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33507386)

your my hero.

Four posts in. (1)

QuijiboIsAWord (715586) | about 4 years ago | (#33500186)

and we've got suggestions of Female Terminators, robotic dildo's, and Japanese robotic tentacle hentai. Is there anything else left to say?

Re:Four posts in. (1)

game kid (805301) | about 4 years ago | (#33500336)

Maybe something involving Cutie Honey, but that kinda overlaps with categories 1 and 3 so no.

--d'oh, wait, there's an invisible monkey.

Unbelievable.

Re:Four posts in. (1)

somersault (912633) | about 4 years ago | (#33500392)

Android Jay: "So you like robotic animals, huh?"
Gynoid Justice: "Sure."
Android Jay: "That's cool. Even robotic snakes?"
Gynoid Justice: "Well, you can't exclude a robot just 'cause they're not cuddly. Of course I like robotic snakes."
Android Jay: "How 'bout robotic trouser snakes?"
Gynoid Justice: "Ooh, what's a robotic trouser snake?

Re:Four posts in. (4, Funny)

AnalogBrain (1882306) | about 4 years ago | (#33500404)

Robotic snake Overlords? Modular snakes on a plane? "It can also wrap itself around a pole and climb vertically" - Yeah, but not as well as your mom? See? Still ripe for comments.

Re:Four posts in. (1)

M8e (1008767) | about 4 years ago | (#33501502)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these!

They're having a hard time feeding it (1)

g4c (919548) | about 4 years ago | (#33500286)

because they can't figure out it they should be pointing it to /dev/psaux or /dev/input/mice. Not to mention all the confusion over ps2/imps2.

(Sigh. That's the best joke I could wriggle out of this one without referring to robotic snake overlords. Ssssorry.)

Re:They're having a hard time feeding it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33500804)

because they can't figure out it they should be pointing it to /dev/psaux or /dev/input/mice. Not to mention all the confusion over ps2/imps2.

Wonder what real snakes would do with this in their environment -- maybe run some tests in the snake pit in a zoo?

Re:They're having a hard time feeding it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33502332)

But shouldn't it be formatted as part of a Python script?

For an encore (2, Funny)

Mathness (145187) | about 4 years ago | (#33500374)

For an encore the robot snake grabbed an apple and headed for a tree next to a robot female.

rolling up a tree (1)

trb (8509) | about 4 years ago | (#33500430)

That's interesting. I assume that the climbing method that this robot is using is not mimicking a real-life animal. Is there a snake (or other animal) that will wrap itself into a spiral around a tree trunk and then roll along its spinal axis to climb? Is it physically possible for a snake to do this? Will a snake even roll on its spinal axis on the ground? (I'm just curious.)

Re:rolling up a tree (2, Informative)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 4 years ago | (#33500552)

As far as I know, the only snakes that allow themselves to be on their back are either playing dead or actually dead. There's at least one species that will roll over and emit a "death odor" to fool predators, but with most snakes, even if they're almost dead, if you roll them on their back they go straight over again.

Now All We Need (2, Funny)

MrTripps (1306469) | about 4 years ago | (#33500440)

Now we need a robot Samuel L. Jackson to complain about them being on a MFing plane.

Program them to hunt rats (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 4 years ago | (#33500498)

Like a boa constrictor. This would be useful in a lot of large cities, as pest control. Even better, would be if they could be powered by the dead rats that they kill. It would cut down the time needed to recharge them.

I just hope they would not develop a taste for human meat.

Re:Program them to hunt rats (1)

pspahn (1175617) | about 4 years ago | (#33500810)

Why stop there? Build a robotic Steve Irwin to go around chasing them, Oi!

Two words.... (1)

rts008 (812749) | about 4 years ago | (#33502210)

Robotic Stingrays!

Re:Two words.... (1)

ralfmuschall (1782380) | about 4 years ago | (#33502720)

Robotic doctor! (see "Planet of the Dead")

Why bother with robots? (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about 4 years ago | (#33501694)

This would be useful in a lot of large cities, as pest control. Even better, would be if they could be powered by the dead rats that they kill.

So why use robots? Just import some snakes. Wild biotech has been optimized for this job for years.

Forget snakes, use cats. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33505942)

Let loose sterilized cats, starting out with the ones that get caught by animal control. Once the sterilized ones die out you import more from neighboring areas, which helps depopulate those areas as well. Snakes have no common sense defense against accidental death by humans, plus they'd be actively killed as well.

It's lifelike (1)

2names (531755) | about 4 years ago | (#33500628)

It gave me the heebie-jeebies.

Power... (3, Insightful)

Sooner Boomer (96864) | about 4 years ago | (#33500652)

...it's all about power. Until a small, very power-dense storage medium is developed (better than current technology), this (and powered prosthetics) will remain only a curiosity. Once you can power it autonomously, there are no limits to the things this device (and those that follow) can do. But this is no easy feat! Perhaps beamed power would work. Or make one that can eat and digest rats and birds!

R2D2's power... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33501304)

Yea, I heard tell that R2D2 was powered off of a 100KW internal nucular reactor.
For this reason, it was never safe to shoot at a droid.
Droids will mess you up!

Re:Power... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33508150)

Why not run it off a small combustion engine?

Power is beside the point (1)

professorguy (1108737) | about 4 years ago | (#33511110)

Once you can power it autonomously, there are no limits to the things this device (and those that follow) can do.

No. It's all about intelligence. This thing can do nothing autonomously. That's why I declare IT IS NOT A ROBOT!

If this is a robot, explain to me why my car is not a robot. It rolls on mechanical 'wheels' and has all kinds of 'activators.' I just have to be on hand to control it.

I think this definition of robot comes from researchers who would rather say "I work with robots!" instead of "I work with a bunch of servos that I turn on and off with switches that I hold in my hand--pretty futuristic, eh?"

If I didn't know any better... (1)

HazelMotes (568300) | about 4 years ago | (#33500666)

99: What's that?
86: An electric snake!
99: Really! What does it run on?
86: Tiny little feet!

it's still tethered (1)

serbanp (139486) | about 4 years ago | (#33500678)

The tether is powering the "snake" and very likely it's providing the control signals too. Get back to us when you can include the power source and the AI in the "snake"'s body...

Where are the lasers? (1)

cbope (130292) | about 4 years ago | (#33500732)

It's not news until it's got frickin' lasers.

Re:Where are the lasers? (1)

LBt1st (709520) | about 4 years ago | (#33500850)

It looks like the camera might be a ContourHD [contour.com] . If so, it does indeed have frickin' lasers :D

licensed for sex toys? (1)

Fippy Darkpaw (1269608) | about 4 years ago | (#33500792)

This technology could fill a niche (literally) in the mechanical sex toy market.

Re:licensed for sex toys? (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | about 4 years ago | (#33500956)

hmm. You got there before me!

Re:licensed for sex toys? (1)

tverbeek (457094) | about 4 years ago | (#33501080)

That's what she said!

Re:licensed for sex toys? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33501802)

Lucky bastard... she didn't say anything to me. Just got up, put clothes on, and I never saw her again...

The Japanese version is more impressive... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33501156)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8j0jNxMeSQ

This Japanese snake robot has been around for some time, and unlike the Carnegie Melon's robot, it is not tethered.

I'm not sure why they thought this was a big deal (1)

xmousex (661995) | about 4 years ago | (#33501400)

There are factories full of robots that do a million different things more interesting and useful then this.
Make something that isnt plugged in and runs by itself and get back to us. We have all been waiting here bored for years now...

ooh its a snake at the end of a hundred feet of a lawn mower orange electric cord, glad i made it to 2010

I for one ... (0)

LoudMusic (199347) | about 4 years ago | (#33501418)

I for one ... am scared! This shit is nightmare inducing! Kill it with fire!

Video with a naked Eve... (0)

macraig (621737) | about 4 years ago | (#33501542)

... and an apple or it didn't happen.

Re:Video with a naked Eve... (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 4 years ago | (#33503732)

... and an apple or it didn't happen.

Macintosh, iPhone or iPad?

About as exciting as grocery store robots (1)

jewishbaconzombies (1861376) | about 4 years ago | (#33502192)

There's bad ass robots out there in the world..these would be the prison punks of the robot world

I'm a drone plane I drop bombs on enemy countries

I weld the sides onto aircraft carriers

I KNOW HOW MUCH KUMQUATS COST

*punch*

On the one hand... (1)

allknowingfrog (1661721) | about 4 years ago | (#33502220)

the idea of constructing robots from modular parts is really cool. On the other hand, I've never found myself in a situation that called for a tree-climbing robot-snake.

design by malpractice (1)

epine (68316) | about 4 years ago | (#33502276)

It's amazing how many people laud mother nature as a design consultancy who think that ten years for Perl 6 was too long.

Personally, I regard pretty much everything after the ribosome as derivative and second rate. Like most other great scientists, after a major breakthrough early in her career, it's been nothing but permutations ever since.

Look at her recent work. Her answer to large cranium/small orifice was more powerful contractions. The snake was the original rubber mallet. Instead of finessing the problem, mother nature reverts to brute force. If you ask me, she lost the thread a long time ago. Speaking of which, the umbilicus strangles more infants than plastic bags. I can't believe the umbilicus is still legal in Sweden. They tend to have strict laws against this kind of design malpractice.

climbs what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33502946)

A "robot that climbs trees (until it reaches the first branch)" is probably better described as "a robot that climbs short poles". Somehow this description seems less newsworthy..

can it sell apples? (2, Funny)

swschrad (312009) | about 4 years ago | (#33503142)

nfm

I've had it! (0)

Nimey (114278) | about 4 years ago | (#33503344)

I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking tree!

Do the androids dream of electric snake? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33506618)

Now we have a robotic snake, but where is robotic Adam and Eve? Is it possible for machines to take on and suffer from the original sin? Does the Lord deem them worthy of redemption?

One step closer... (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | about 4 years ago | (#33507376)

On step closer to realizing Bladerunner as our reality.

Samuel L (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33510654)

"I have had it with these mother-f'ing robot snakes on this mother-f'ing tree!"

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