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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Serpentine Robots Inch Ahead
25 March 2005 (All day)
Snakelike robots could one day be slithering around waste disposal sites to check for leaking drums, or inching through building wreckage with a camera and microphone to probe for survivors.
The prototype pictured, dubbed OmniTread, was built over the past few years by roboticist Johann Borenstein of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and his colleagues. The 1.2-meter-long machine crawls with treads that cover 80% of its surface and flexes powerfully, thanks to four pneumatic joints. In the March issue of Industrial Robot, the team describes the results of tests on various terrains. OmniTread can pass through or around obstructions that most other robots cannot, says Borenstein.
OmniTread "climbs stairs pretty well; it crosses gaps pretty well," says Wendell Sykes of Context Systems in Carlisle, Massachusetts, who consults on robotics for government agencies. Borenstein is "probably about a year ahead of everyone else."
The Michigan researchers are now working on a smaller-diameter version of OmniTread that will hold enough batteries and compressed gas to operate untethered for up to an hour.