Engineers at Johns Hopkins University have studied how snakes glide around, providing information about the design of new, flexible robots,media New Atlas reported. The researchers hope the advance will lead to search-and-rescue robots that can easily solve obstacles.
“We get inspiration from these creepy creatures because they are already very good at solving barriers in everyday life,” said Chen Li, a senior author of the study. We want our robots to learn how to swing the body forward like snakes. “
The researchers observed how the python climbed steps and surfaces at different heights. When facing the steps, the reptile appears to divide its body movements into three parts – moving back and forth, while the middle remains stiff. As you approach the steps, the length of the front segment increases, the length of the middle segment remains the same, and the length of the latter segment decreases. For higher steps or those with smooth surfaces, the speed will decrease and the swings will be less noticeable to help maintain stability.
After viewing the snake’s video, graduate student Fu Qiyuan set out to build the snake-shaped robot. Earlier versions of the ten-wheeled track car often encountered stability problems when encountering steps, often overturned or stuck. The engineer reduces its roll unstableness by inserting a suspension mechanism between each one-way wheel and the parts of the body. Today, the serpentine robot is able to push itself to the ground as it climbs, almost climbing the steps “38 percent of its body length.”
The team noted that the robot is moving at almost as fast as the snake. However, the increase in suspension does mean that it requires more power to run than other older robots in the study. Engineers will continue to study serpentine robots to withstand more complex obstacles on 3D terrain.
Papers on the project have been published in the journal Satbeand and Royal Society Open Science.