Dr. Gavin Miller designed snake robots like this one using his own funding. He wanted to find out how the highly variable methods snake use to navigate different types of terrain could be applied to robotics. The goal was to develop robots that could take samples, carry sensors, and even make physical changes in different environments, primarily as search-and-rescue aids. Unlike some other robots in this slideshow, Miller's are untethered, so they must carry their own computers and batteries, and they can be easily controlled remotely. SnakeRobots.com shows several generations of Miller's experiments, as well as simulations he developed to refine locomotion strategies. (Source: Gavin Miller/SnakeRobots.com)
sensor pro, thanks for that link. That snake robot, and its uses, look quite similar to some of the search-and-rescue snake/worm/bots in this slideshow. But--I wonder if that's a cammo skin pattern, or a natural snake skin pattern? I can't tell from the low-res photo.
Battar, I'm not afraid of snakes (but don't even ask me about tarantulas), although many people are. That's a good point about military applications, though, and could apply to search-and-rescue ops, also. Fortunately most of these don't actually look much like real snakes, with the exception of MIT's Meshworm.
Yes, we've come a long way since the Slinky which was invented in 1940. Back then microprocessors, let alone mainframe computers, did not exist. A simple material, sand, manipulated in complex ways has made it possible to provide the intelligence and electrical control required to drive the imaginative tools of the 21st century.
I was in awe of the electronic tablets depicted in Stanley Kubrick's film "2001 A Space Odyssey." Back in the last century that hardware seemed so futuristic. Who would have imagined the iPad with far greater capabilities becoming a must have personal eReader, camera, and mobile computer a short time past 2001?