Creepy-cool Robot Snake has Killer ‘Bite’
Israeli researchers create serpentine robot with military, search/rescue and medical applications.
Researchers in the Biorobotics and Biomechanics Lab (BRML) at Technion, Israel Institute of Technology have created a series of hyper-redundant or snake robots, which, among other applications, could be used in combat. Sheathed in a camouflage “skin”, BRML’s robo snake can slither through rough terrain or urban environments and rear up like a cobra to perform reconnaissance. A camera and LED lights mounted in its “face” beam audio and video back to the operator’s laptop.
Taking the concept one step further, Israeli military have said they may adapt the robot to act as weapon. Packed with explosives, the snake could worm its way into an enemy position and curl up near combatants’ before detonating.
On the positive side, BRML has partnered with researchers at Carnegie Melon University on medical applications of the technology. The team’s Highly Articulated Robotic Probe (HARP) or CardioARM is designed perform minimally invasive cardiac surgery, by entering a single incision and squirming its way to the patient’s heart. In addition, BRML has developed on an Urban Search And Rescue (USAR) robot designed to enter collapsed buildings and detect survivors faster while reducing the risk to rescue personnel.
To fabricate its serpentine ‘bots, BRML uses Objet’s Connex350 3D printer to create the complex structures that cover most of the snake’s design and structural requirements, in one build process.
For example, its terrestrial models require a rigid, high-impact casing with a protective, non-slip coating. Using the Connex350’s dual build material capability, the team prints the robot’s segment casing from acrylic resin, covered in Objet’s rubber-like TangoPlus to provide shock absorption, impact resistance and the required friction coefficient.