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Robotics Hardware

Robot Snake Can Climb Trees 90

Posted by Soulskill
from the as-long-as-they-aren't-on-planes dept.
kkleiner writes "The latest in a line of 'modsnakes' from Carnegie Mellon's Biorobotics Lab, Uncle Sam can move in a variety of different ways, including rolling, wiggling, and side-winding. It can also wrap itself around a pole and climb vertically, and even scale a tree. You have to watch this thing in action. There is something incredibly life-like and eerie about the way it scales the tree outdoors and then looks around with its camera 'eye.' Projects like Uncle Sam show how life-mimicking machines could revolutionize robotics in the near future."
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Robot Snake Can Climb Trees

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  • by pavon (30274) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @02:38PM (#33500376)

    Because the person who posted the video on youtube (apparently an official CMU account) opted to show ads over the top of it. Youtube's HTML5 player doesn't have that feature right now (I imagine it could be done with a transparent div and javascript), so they fell back to Flash. Why CMU thinks they should be showing advertisements on what is already an advertisement for their school is beyond me.

  • by bhartman34 (886109) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @02:52PM (#33500568)

    Or do you just enjoy having less people be able to view your content?

    Probably, it's a reluctance to learn a (relatively) new technology to satisfy the needs of 1% of a market, when the other 99% (those not using iPods, iPads, or mobile phones) can see the video just fine. When the market changes, and most people are viewing the sites on mobile devices, it'll make sense to change. Until then, why bother? It's not like people who have these other mobile devices don't have desktops or laptops.

  • Power... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sooner Boomer (96864) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <rmoob.renoos>> on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @02:59PM (#33500652) Journal

    ...it's all about power. Until a small, very power-dense storage medium is developed (better than current technology), this (and powered prosthetics) will remain only a curiosity. Once you can power it autonomously, there are no limits to the things this device (and those that follow) can do. But this is no easy feat! Perhaps beamed power would work. Or make one that can eat and digest rats and birds!

  • by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @03:05PM (#33500746)

    This is neat, but I don't see anything to do with snakes here.. Which is a shame.

    I agree the writeup over-states the degree to which this robot is biomimetic, but why is that a bad thing? Evolution never even "discovered" the wheel.

  • by SunSpot505 (1356127) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @03:10PM (#33500826)

    Nature is a fantastic designer. Sure, she works slowly, but every project is subjected to years of testing and refinement. It’s no wonder then that we see engineers looking to nature for inspiration in robotics.

    After reading this quote I was thinking the same thing, and also wondering what snake they looked at... Did it have a broken spine?

    I have a 80" arboreal python and it moves nothing like that on the ground or climbing a vertical post. Snakes don't twist on the ground, and most (arboreal) snakes don't wrap around trees like that either, as it is an extremely inefficient method of motion for moving. Watching how a real arboreal snake climbs a tree would have yielded a much better climber of a robot. In my experience snakes use large bends in their bodies as hands or feet that they use to grip the sides of the object. They can release the bends muscle tension and moves up the post, squeezing again, and repeating the process downwards. It looks like an inchworm, but with the inching movement perpendicular to the direction of movement and opposed to congruent. That I would like to see on a robot, and it seems like it would also fit well with the attempts at modular design they are working with.

    I understand some of the excitement about this thing, but as a snake owner I am not even close to impressed, even if it had frickin' laser eyes. This thing looks a worm after a rain, not the delicate beauty and raw strength of a snake. Whatever happened to all that hydraulic muscular research I read about years ago? This would have been the ideal application rather than a bunch of universal joints...

I bet the human brain is a kludge. -- Marvin Minsky

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