Japanese scientists have created a snake robot that stretches 8m in length and is covered in hairs, designed to help rescue workers in disaster zones.
Made from plastic, the robot weighs around 3kg and writhes in a snake-like manner. It is known to be the first robot in the world able to lift front tip off the ground to circumvent obstacles, move through tiny spaces and explore areas that could be very volatile.
It can move at speeds of close to four inches a second both over and under obstacles, gently vibrating its hairs to propel itself forward.
The snake robot also features a camera mounted on its ‘head’ to help it find people trapped in rubble or inaccessible buildings.
According to the Jiji News Agency, its creators, including scientists from Tohoku University in Sendai, hope for this robot to be ready for practical rescue efforts within three years.
An earlier model of the robot was used in 2011 to explore the Fukushima nuclear power plant that was damaged with the earthquake and tsunami.
Researchers found that the robot reportedly faced issues, like getting stuck behind obstacles in its way and blocked camera views, so the consortium of researchers has now tweaked its design, building in the ability for the snake to raise its head and tail so it can move over things more than 7 inches in height.
Japan has for quite some time been at the cutting edge of mechanical autonomy innovation with a mixed gathering of past creations going from the world’s first clothes folding robot to the first robot that supposedly has “feelings”.
Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, even suggested the country should host its own robot Olympics to run alongside the main Tokyo Olympics planned for summer 2020.