If you weren’t already scared about the dexterity of robots, this may make you a little more petrified. Kyoto University has joined forces with the University of Electro-Communications to develop a robot that can climb up ladders, just like a slithery snake.

It can wrap itself around one rung at a time, making it’s way to the top – where you, presumably quaking in your boots – are waiting for the robot invasion.

OK, so the robot hasn’t just been designed to scare you, but it’s actually a demonstration of how robotics can be developed to help gain access to hard to reach places. For example, it could be used to reach the top floor of damaged buildings if it’s not safe to climb up inside. It could also be used to scale up or down other structures, such as mountains, on search and rescue missions.

“We designed a novel gait for the snake using a gait design method that configures the target form of the snake robot by connecting simple shapes,” the paper written about the robot says. “The climbing motion is executed via shift control and the corresponding motion required to catch the next step on the ladder. In addition, we developed a snake robot that has a smooth exterior body surface through construction of pectinate-shaped parts of the links.”

A video of the robot, that was debuted at an annual intelligent robot conference, shows the robot is pretty adept at untangling itself too, if it gets stuck while climbing. This is a particularly useful feature of it, because it’s highly likely the colon-like creature may get stuck in overgrown areas, like buildings that have been left for a long time or jungles.

This also brings another use case to light – perhaps it could explore areas that are unsuitable for human intervention, like hidden cities that have fallen into disrepair, or dangerous areas such as Fukushima or Chernobyl.