Team develops snake-like robot to help in disasters

The snake-like robot expected to play a role in rescues
The snake-like robot expected to play a role in rescues CREDIT: AVALON.RED

Asnake-like robot that stretches 26 feet in length and is covered in short brush-like hairs has been created by Japanese scientists.

The robot, which writhes in a snake-like manner, is reportedly the first in the world that can lift its front tip off the ground to circumvent obstacles.

The plastic robot has been created by Japanese scientists in order to climb over debris and rubble in small spaces in disaster zones, according to media reports.

The robot, which weighs around 3 kg, can move at speeds of close to 4 inches a second both over and under obstacles, using the vibrations of the short hairs with which it is covered to propel itself forward.

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The new creation aims to assist search and rescue operations as it can enter collapsed buildings and search for people trapped inside using a camera mounted to the tip of the body.

Its creators, including scientists from Tohoku University in Sendai, are hoping for the snake-like robot to be ready for practical rescue efforts within three years, according to Jiji news agency.

An earlier model of the robot was used in explorations of the Fukushima nuclear power plant damaged in the 2011 tsunami and earthquake.

Researchers found that the robot reportedly encountered problems including getting stuck by obstacles in its path and the blockage of camera views.

The team are reportedly aiming to circumvent these issues by enabling the robot to rear its tip in a snake-like fashion, so that it can climb over objects more than 7 inches in height.

Satoshi Tadokoro, a professor at Tohoku University involved in its creation, told Jiji news that the snake-like robot would be able to search for people trapped in collapsed homes following earthquakes and also check the safety of damaged buildings.

Japan has long been at the forefront of robotics technology with an eclectic collection of previous inventions ranging from the world’s first laundry folding robot to the first robot that reportedly feels “emotions”.

Shinzo Abe, the prime minister, has even voiced his hopes to stage a so-called Robot Olympics, to run alongside the Tokyo games scheduled to take place in the capital in summer 2020.

 

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