The Carnegie Mellon snake robot (Credit: Nico Zevallos and Chaohui Gong)

Let's face it.. as advanced as robotic technologies are becoming these days, many of them are downright disturbing (for proof of concept, see this terrifying four-legged robot). The newest creepy development, and believe me when I say many of you will probably agree, is modeled after one of the most fear-inducing creatures on the planet; a slithery, scaly snake.

In a recent paper, researchers have presented a conceptual robotic "snake," that builds on a similar, but flawed, prototype, called the Carnegie Mellon snake robot. Both devices, in turn, center around a rattlesnake known for the potency of its venom. In addition to its effective killing technique, the snake — called the sidewinder rattlesnake — is notable for its apt climbing skills. Unlike many of its counterparts, it can successfully climb slopes comprised of sand without riding the grains back down to sturdy ground.

Clearly, this ability is handy not just for the species, but for helping us perfect the design of other legless robotic technologies. As Joe Mendelson, the director of research at Zoo Atlanta, noted:

“If a robot gets stuck in the sand, that’s a problem, especially if that sand happens to be on another planet,” he said. “Sidewinders never get stuck in the sand, so they are helping us create robots that can avoid getting stuck in the sand. These venomous snakes are offering something to humanity.”

Putting any physical likeness to a snake aside, these robots could help us with many things that most traditional robots will never be able to do, like participating in search and rescue missions and helping scientists inspect hazardous waste sites, or places that are tight and nearly inaccessible to us in general.

Furthermore, they could help us explore the inner chambers of priceless monuments built thousands of years ago. Heck.. these robots might one day help us explore other worlds! Only time will give us new ways to exploit said technologies..

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