Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Snake Robots Aid in Rescues

We need more snake robots... from AP writer Daniel Lovering

For most people, snakes seem unpleasant or even threatening. But Howie Choset sees in their delicate movements a way to save lives.
The 37-year-old Carnegie Mellon University professor has spent years developing snake-like robots he hopes will eventually slither through collapsed buildings in search of victims trapped after natural disasters or other emergencies.

In recent weeks, Choset and some of his students made what he said was an industry breakthrough: enabling the articulated, remote-controlled devices to climb up and around pipes.

Rescue workers say such robots would help them meet their challenge of locating survivors. Current equipment has limited mobility and is usually lowered into fallen structures, Choset said.

The Carnegie Mellon machines are designed to carry cameras and electronic sensors and can be controlled with a joystick. They wriggle with the help of small electric motors, or servos, commonly used by hobbyists in model airplanes.

Built from lightweight aluminum or plastic, the robots are about the size of a human arm or smaller. They are semiautonomous and can sense which way is up, but are only as good as their human operators.

The robots, with nicknames such as "Breadstick" and "Pepperoni," have successfully inched up the insides and outsides of storm drains, negotiated large gaps between pieces of debris, and maneuvered through underbrush and fences, Choset said.

Snake-Like Robots Made to Aid in Rescues - Yahoo! News

Other snake: OCRobotics
Gavin Miller
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