Secrets of the Sidewinder Snake Help Robots Climb Sandy Hills

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When looking for victims at a disaster site or when exploring desert regions, it is not good to use a robot that will get stuck in the sand. During a 2011 archeological mission to the Red Sea area, Carnegie Mellon University's snake robot failed because it couldn't move up sandy slopes inside the caves. Now researchers at Georgia Tech have studied the movements of the Sidewinder snake to learn their secrets.

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High speed footage of six adult sidewinders from Zoo Atlanta revealed that the snakes would progressively increase the length of their bodies in contact with the sand as the slopes got steeper. A sidewinder sends a horizontal wave down its body and undulates up and down as it moves. The parts of the body on the ground push off while the airborne loops reach upslope. The researchers taught the movements to one of CMU's snakebots with great success! See more details at Gizmag . . .

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A further explanation on how sidewinders move –

Image: CMU


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