Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

A Modular Snake Robot

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the snakes-in-a-pipe dept.

Robotics 103

StCredZero writes "Researchers at CMU are working on a Modular Snake Robot. A video from this site is up on YouTube. In addition to being able to traverse a wide variety of terrain, the robot can also climb poles, the inside of pipes and conduits, small grooves in walls, and probably more. It can also swim. Many robots can do one of those tasks. This one can do them all. That's quite an accomplishment. This has tremendous potential for the maintenance of fiber optic networks, pipelines, and plumbing in large buildings; and also as a spy device. (I wonder how loud it is?)"

cancel ×

103 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

a little weird (2, Interesting)

OrochimaruVoldemort (1248060) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662580)

but useful. the telcos would sure like one of those. the us govt. would also see an interest

Re:a little weird (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662742)

Uh they're far from actually making delicate repairs on fiber.. but I was very wowed by it snaking around on that horizonal pole. That must be some crazy programming for it be able to keep balance and not fall off.

Re:a little weird (1)

Bozzio (183974) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663350)

Wouldn't it depend on how it's built?
If it's got sensors that tell it where its point of contact are, then it should be pretty simple to keep at least two loops around the horizontal pole.

Maybe I'm completely off, but that's how I'd do it.

Re:a little weird (2, Insightful)

phillips321 (955784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663750)

The problem we are at is that any robots we make have crap movement and physical structure but we can 100% control their brain.
On the alternative, live animals have the movement we desire sadly we have yet to 100% control their brains.

Hollwood calls (4, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662584)

Does anyone else smell a "Snakes on a Plane" sequel?

Re:Hollwood calls (1)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662926)

Sadly, it's been done [imdb.com] ....

Re:Hollwood calls (1)

darthflo (1095225) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663762)

That's not a sequel, it's the typical The asylum copycat version of a popular film. Check their filmography [imdb.com] for other jewels like The DaVinci Treasure (The DaVinci Code), I Am Omega (I Am Legend), Transmorphers (Transformers) or 100 Million BC (10,000 BC).

Nah, I can think of more entertaining stuff (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664944)

Nah, I can think of far more entertaining stuff. Like programming one to give your least favourite luser/coworker/boss/etc a colonoscopy.

Re:Hollwood calls (1)

electricbern (1222632) | more than 6 years ago | (#22668834)

Yes, but the snakes would have to be shutdown for takeoffs and landings as not to interfere with the plane's equipment (???).

Kick-ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22662586)

That is totally freaking cool!

Kudos to them!

first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22662594)

first post

Oblig (3, Funny)

styryx (952942) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662606)

I, for one....snake robots....etc....overlords.

Oblig chain (1)

BlackCobra43 (596714) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662706)

but those these robotic snake overlords run Linux?

Re:Oblig chain (1)

Tastycat (1003898) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662996)

Can they run DOOM?

Re:Oblig chain (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663774)

No, but they do play Snake

Re:Oblig chain (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665076)

My robotic snake minions will spell your DOOM!!! I am INVINCIBLE!!! MWAHAHAHAHAH!! ..er, sorry

Got carried away

Re:Oblig chain (1)

capnchicken (664317) | more than 6 years ago | (#22666194)

Not Even Doom Music can make this thing any cooler.

Re:Oblig chain (1)

darthdavid (835069) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664012)

Imagine a beowulf cluster of these!

Re:Oblig chain (2, Funny)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664152)

This would be known as a "Jormungand Cluster".

Unfortunately (4, Insightful)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662630)

They are still all Tethered units, which limits their functionality. Of course, they are still in the development stage, so a tethered unit is to be expected.

It will be interesting to see if they can progress beyond tethered to wireless, and finally to fully autonomous units. I would imagine that they will need to get a bit bigger to accommodate the extra electronics needed.

Still, a very cool and potentially VERY useful technology.

Evangelion (1)

StCredZero (169093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662712)

The prototype Evangelion [google.com] were tethered, but they did a whole lot!

Re:Unfortunately (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22662878)

It will be interesting to see if they can progress beyond tethered to wireless,
I don't believe the problem lies within "communication" but rather, "power". I couldn't imagine how much power this thing consumes to move each "module". I'd say advancements in batteries would be the next big step for this technology.

Re:Unfortunately (1)

EmperorKagato (689705) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664224)

Yes and the advancements in machine efficiency.

Re:Unfortunately (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22664110)

In two of the videos it shows it moving completely without any tether (floor crawl and wall climb). It looks like they used different generations of the snake for the different videos.

Re:Unfortunately (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 6 years ago | (#22666226)

Tethered is not necessarily a big limitation. Imagine you need to inspect a 200ft long pipe. Send it down (or UP!) the pipe, the tether is not a big deal. Unteathered is only important if you have to go a long distance, or have to go far down something you have to roll over. (did you notice the teather start to wind up in a few of them?)

Re:Unfortunately (2, Interesting)

ivanjager (820414) | more than 6 years ago | (#22668678)

No, they are not all tethered any more. They've had an untethered one for about a year now. I could go down and ask them how long exactly if anyone's really interested.

They are pretty lound however, especially the untethered one I saw, as it needed a high speed fan on it to keep stuff cool. I don't remember exactly why they needed the fan, but I think it might have been because they didn't want huge heatsinks on the voltage regulators. The other source of noise of course is the sound of dozens of servos with cheap gearboxes. Each joint is controlled by a separate servo.

Sorry, I don't really know much about the current status, as I haven't been keeping up much after I leaving that lab. I still work at CMU, so I still see them now and then.

Great Surveillance Possibilities (3, Insightful)

Russell2566 (1205416) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662634)

I bet this would be an amazing tool for Police, Swat and the likes. I bet our boys over seas could find some uses for it as well to sneak into places undetected.

Too bad it's probably really loud on hard surfaces and requires a massive cable bundle...

Re:Great Surveillance Possibilities (1)

PolarBearFire (1176791) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662738)

They already have remote control roaches. How about remote control snakes? They are much more mobile and flexible than anything we can make out of metal and plastics. Solves battery problems, noise issues, controls vermin pop, etc.

Re:Great Surveillance Possibilities (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662894)

Better for survoliance purposes, maybe. But try replacing a real snake's mouth with some sort of tool or sending it into hazardous environments. Also, I haven't ever seen a snake climb a pole. So even if the authorities don't use this robot, we should still pursue it's development.

Re:Great Surveillance Possibilities (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664878)

They're called tree snakes! Most snakes in the north are too small, but in the jungle, many live in trees (their kind of like poles)

planetary exploration? (2, Interesting)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663196)

From the description of what it can do, it sounds like the answer to a lot of NASA's terrain negotiation problems. Anyone have an idea if this (perhaps on a larger scale) would suit them?

Cool (1)

PolarBearFire (1176791) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662646)

Very cool, but what would be even cooler is if it had sensors and an electronic brain that could coordinate all its movements. That would be a greater breakthrough than just the robotic component.

Coolest... FA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22662656)

...EVAR!!!

Impressive (3, Insightful)

Degreeless (1250850) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662694)

It is an impressive feat though there ae issues of range, woth it being tethered it it's control/power, and also its application for maintenance may be limited to identifying faults depending upon whether suitable tools could be made withoput hampering the movement of the snake.

Issues aside it also looks very cool, if a little creepy when it's climbing uyp that guy's leg.

I have a task for this robot (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22662698)

Can it traverse the hostile terrain of my anus to enter into the still more hostile, tropical colon environment?

Re:I have a task for this robot (2, Funny)

ichthyoboy (1167379) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662754)

Goatse man, is that you?

time to amend a classic (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22662702)

Robot robot robot robot robot robot snake snakkeeeee it's a robot snakkeeeee

Old news (5, Interesting)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662744)

I ordered one of these for my wife as a gift a little while ago. She gave me the weirdest "freaked out" look.

Yeah kind of like your expression right now ...

Re:Old news (4, Funny)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663046)

Only on /. can a racy joke about robotic development and what women do alone in their bedrooms get modded "Interesting".

Re:Old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22663342)

I just don't understand why your wife would supposedly give you a "freaked out" look, and how that makes this any funny. It's a joke with no punchline... I think it would just have been funnier if you said you wanted to order one for your wife and that's it.

Re:Old news (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664658)

what women do alone in their bedrooms

If she's your wife and she hasn't introduced you to her "toys" yet, you're missing out on half the fun :P

Of course we are all speaking in theory because no one in slashdot is married, the only women we see are images on our computers and our mothers when we ascend from the basement (MOM!!! MORE HOT POCKETS!!!), and of course the wife and two kids I have in the picture here in my office are fake... they came with the frame :)

Re:Old news (1)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664868)

"If she's your wife and she hasn't introduced you to her "toys" yet, you're missing out on half the fun :P"

She tried to ... but I'm not really into the whole "pain" thing. Nothing against anyone who is.

Re:Old news (2, Informative)

truthful cynic (525883) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669124)

This really is not too new. This person has been doing impressive things with robosnakes for at least 15 years.... http://www.snakerobots.com/ [snakerobots.com]

Robot Snakes (5, Funny)

verbalcontract (909922) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662774)

In addition to being able to traverse a wide variety of terrain, the robot can also climb poles, the inside of pipes and conduits, small grooves in walls, and probably more. It can also swim.

Oh, so real snakes aren't scary enough? I have to worry about robot snakes too?

Re:Robot Snakes (1)

RenoGeek (1247478) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663370)

The inside of pipes? Now we have something else to worry about when we're doing out "duty"?

Re:Robot Snakes (1)

TheRagingTowel (724266) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663850)

Imagine one of these quietly sneaking up on you at night and crawling on you while you sleep, turning its 'face' towards you and suddenly calls "BOOOO!", then quickly escaping. The coroner will have a hard time to finding out wtf happened.

Hot Comment (0, Offtopic)

Lazerf4rt (969888) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664940)

Oh man, this comment is HOT!!!! ... *sizzle*

Re:Robot Snakes (1)

Aegis Runestone (1248876) | more than 6 years ago | (#22667196)

Imagine it crawling into your bed...

Re:Robot Snakes (1)

cgwright (1167057) | more than 6 years ago | (#22671962)

No.

amazing uses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22662788)

but can it please a woman and take video at the same time?

but will it blend? (2, Funny)

lthown (737539) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662790)

yeah, so it can climb and swim and stuff, but it apparently can't survive a good slashdotting.

Old hat (4, Interesting)

Lars Clausen (1208) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662796)

The ability to climb poles (and legs) is cute, but apart from that, Xerox PARC had a modular robot in 2000 that could not only be a snake, but could reconfigure itself into a ball or a spider to go faster or to traverse difficult terrain. It was extremely nifty, but like so much else from Xerox PARC, they never capitalized much on it.

-Lars

I think I saw that one (1)

blueZ3 (744446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662824)

When the Decepticons were near it would transform into a giant robot! Who knew that PARC was responsible for the autobots?

Re:Old hat (5, Informative)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662988)

You're referring to Polybot [parc.com] , which has Generation I [parc.com] listed at 1997. Polybot is a bit more flexible (har har) due to the fact that each module is entirely self-sufficient (aside from power, which they can channel from module to module as needed), although I haven't seen a demo of it handling water....

"Already done" notwithstanding, it's nice to see a robot succeed so well in such varied scenarios.

Even older hat (1)

jmichaelg (148257) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664778)

John Calhoun of Glider [mac.com] fame built a snake robot back in the mid 90's. He showed it to me during the summer of 95. It wasn't water proof, couldn't climb cracks and tubes like this one can but otoh, it was untethered and could amble around his apartment.

The thing that impressed me the most was he built it with hand tools in his apartment as he didn't have access to a machine shop.

snake bots! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22662802)

I for one welcome our snake-bot overlords... on a plane... with frickin' lasers on them!

Other YouTube videos (2, Interesting)

honestmonkey (819408) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662804)

If you check the video out, it looks cool. Youtube also points out other robot snake videos. It looks like the Japanese already have several types of things like this, they are wireless and apparently have on-board batteries, and seem to do most if not all of what this one does. So, is this really a big advance or just a bad copy-cat of a Japanese version?

Re:Other YouTube videos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22663354)

The Japanese are also trying to make their snake robot autonomous. However, the real difference is in the application. The US version will more than likely catch the eyes of the military, whereas the Japanese one will catch the eyes of earthquake and other disaster rescue teams. (Which is apparently the Japanese version's intended function right from the start. Makes sense when you have 2000 noticeable earthquakes a year.)

Re:Other YouTube videos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22665168)

Not only that but theirs are way more advanced. Check out the one in the water near the end of this video [youtube.com] . What's really incredible is the motion, it's so smooth.

It's a good start. Now scale it up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22662812)

OK, now scale one of those babies up to the length of a bus, paint a scary face on the front, and put a cockpit in it. Or maybe just a saddle on top. Screw mechas, I want a crawling-rolling-climbing-wriggling-slithering-tunnelling-swimming-super-snakemobile!

promising (2, Interesting)

darkob (634931) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662898)

This is definetelly very promissing technology. I can easily imagine letting one of those (tethered, why now) devices into sewer (or even into toilet) two, three blocks away from the target.

But (0, Offtopic)

vandit2k6 (848077) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662910)

Does it run Linux!!!

Tin Foil Hats (2, Insightful)

fuzzlost (871011) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662920)

Why does every summary involving robots contain a line in the summary about possible spy usage?

It's like the editors are wearing my tinfoil hat for me...

Re:Tin Foil Hats (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664688)

it was posted by kdawson?

Nothing drums up the page hits like a little controversy

whereas Olin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22663100)

already built a pretty nifty scalable snake that can be as long as the backbome you use for it.

Missing option ... (3, Funny)

BESTouff (531293) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663114)

Nice but ... can it fly ?

Re:Missing option ... (1)

Cope57 (752357) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663364)

Does it blend?

Exccccelent... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22663242)

One step closer to getting the powers of The Darkness in real life... (twiddles fingers menacingly)

Harry Potter Quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22663394)

"... a little scary sometimes, you know that? Brilliant... but scary."

(Ron Weasley)

Hollywood is saved! (1)

pseudorand (603231) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663446)

> This has tremendous potential for the maintenance of fiber optic networks, pipelines, and plumbing in large buildings; and also as a spy device... ...not to mention Action/Thriller sequels staring Samuel L. Jackson and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

This summer: He traveled back in time to stop a post-apocolyptic future where terrorists rule the world with their robot-snake armies. But with their tremendous potential for the maintenance of fiber optic networks, pipelines, plumbing, and time-travel, two of them followed him: one good, the other evil...

Does it vibrate? (1)

UberHoser (868520) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663472)

I see a trememdous market for this in the porn industry....

old story (1)

Sebastopol (189276) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663798)

I know I saw this exact video years ago, can't remember where.

But I did see some stories on /. with very similar robots from 1999 and 2000.

http://slashdot.org/articles/99/12/02/1234201.shtml?tid=126 [slashdot.org]
http://slashdot.org/science/00/05/06/200224.shtml [slashdot.org]

Re:old story (1)

Andrevan (621897) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669128)

The video was only compiled and posted recently, mod parent down.

Is the name of this experiment... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22663876)

Project Lemmiwinks?

oh well... (1)

FernandoBR (1011821) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664106)

is it poisonous?

Re:oh well... (1)

Zashi (992673) | more than 6 years ago | (#22667586)

I think you mean venomous.

Re:oh well... (1)

FernandoBR (1011821) | more than 6 years ago | (#22671876)

hehehe, haven't you read my sig? thanks anyway!

Nature the designer (1)

Carson Napier (1045596) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664136)

Nature is a pretty cool designer. The snake... no limbs and yet it can negotiate some crazy terrain. Brilliant!
I think looking to natures designs for inspiration is an excellent approach to robotics.

Better Metal Snake (2, Funny)

MaufTarkie (6625) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664204)

Someone has been listening to Dethklok, I think. We're all doomed!

Robot regulation and EULA (1)

Benjamin_Wright (1168679) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664580)

Picture the future. As StCredZero suggests, the unleashing of robots into society will raise privacy and other legal questions. The questions can in part be answered with devices that resemble the end-user license agreements we see on software today. Robot "terms of service" will be one tool for regulating robot bad behavior or unwanted spying. http://hack-igations.blogspot.com/2008/01/robot-surveillance-contracts.html [blogspot.com]

Re:Robot regulation and EULA (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665238)

Can we add an ammendment to Asimov's three laws of robotics?

Without a doubt (1)

Colourspace (563895) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664604)

This is the most singularly coolest but most creepy and frightening thing I have ever seen on the net. I don't mind real snakes too much (my wife can't even look at one) but the look of this combined with the impressive things it can do for a robot are quite worrying and eerie. Am I not the only one to sit here with shivers going up my spine?

Re:Without a doubt (1)

ch0ad (1127549) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664876)

ok don't panic but... that's not a shiver...

meh (1)

souplogic (927170) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664890)

It's a lot of time and money put into chaining servos together, something like this could likely be put together using parts from lynxmotion.

What would be impressive is to get onboard power, communication and sensors onto this body without hampering its physical abilities, then give it some sort of capability for autonomy. This thing presents a sensor integration nightmare, and solving that would be useful indeed.
 

Already Been Done (1)

trongey (21550) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664996)

Battlebots 2000 season. Bigger, louder, more destructive, cooler looking.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=7A7u86OyC_0 [youtube.com]

Re:Already Been Done (1)

randyest (589159) | more than 6 years ago | (#22666322)

Bigger? OK. Louder? Probably. Cooler looking is subjective, for sure. But more destructive? I'd say they're both tied for zero in that category. That "battle worm" thing just flailed helplessly as a little car bashed it to death.

For cooler looking my money's on the Japanese snake robot at the end of this video [youtube.com] -- its' much smoother than the one in the OP.

Re:Already Been Done (1)

trongey (21550) | more than 6 years ago | (#22666774)

But more destructive? I'd say they're both tied for zero in that category.
Aww, come on. Give the guy the credit he's due. As I recall, the snake did manage to flop over onto it's first opponent and win that match.

Cool.. but can it (1)

danwat1234 (942579) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665052)

Cool, but can it traverse through Jeffries Tubes? Imagine those robots replicating and spreading throughout the NCC-1701-D (instead of Nanites)

What it's good for (1)

74nova (737399) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665412)

I'll tell you what this thing is good for: Freaking me RIGHT OUT.

Pray, does it talk? (ob Monty Python joke)

Is it like a real snake? (1)

denelson83 (841254) | more than 6 years ago | (#22666420)

Or does it just hiss pseudo-random noise?

Solid Snake (1)

Aegis Runestone (1248876) | more than 6 years ago | (#22666742)

Okay, that's really cool, but does it eat apples? :P

Anyway, I watched the snake hanging on a horizontal pipe in the upper area of a room. Maybe they could be used as mobile security cameras that could follow a susipcious person or possibly, if it can, communicate to other snakes about the problem.

Hmmm... this brings a whole new meaning to name: "Solid Snake."

Surgical Applications? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22667384)

The question I have is: can they shrink it down enough to do micro-surgery. Imagine being able to get small otherwise inoperable tumors out of the brain by putting in a flexible robot that is very small, and can route itself around critical areas. (Earth Final Conflict, anyone)

Biomorphic robots (1)

heroine (1220) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669296)

Any robot that moves around like a biological entity is cool & a lot more productive than a javascript popup menu. Too bad they're not the current big thing.

medical use (1)

That_Chubby_Kid (1252114) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670856)

Would be great for colonoscopy.

Dude, (1)

arbitraryaardvark (845916) | more than 6 years ago | (#22671812)

"Dude, you got me up for a snake?"
- Clever Nick Name reviews python.

Is it actually a *robot*... (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 6 years ago | (#22674236)

or is it remote controlled? The wires suggest that it isn't.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?