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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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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.