Researchers develop snake-like robot that can climb ladders

By Digit NewsDesk | Published on Oct 15 2018
Researchers develop snake-like robot that can climb ladders

Apart from terrifying bystanders, the snake robot is expected to be helpful in rescue operations.

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It’s no surprise that automation is the future and we are well on our way to making robots and devices that are becoming scarily good at what we can do. A new, flexible snake-like robot capable of climbing ladders has been created as a result of a joint project between researchers at the Kyoto University Mechatronics Lab and the University of Electro-Communications in Japan. It was demoed at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) held in Madrid earlier this month. The robot makes use of a gait design method that enables it to climb by connecting simple shapes and as scary/weird as it might seem, the robot can be extremely helpful in rescue operations for scaling obstacles and navigating through terrains where humans can’t reach easily. 

The abstract from the team’s research paper, via CNET, states, “This paper presents a method that allows a snake robot to climb a ladder. We design 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 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." 

In case the new snake-like robot was not enough to hint at the increasing capabilities of robotics, there’s also Boston Dynamics’ humanoid Atlas robot, which is capable of some basic parkour. A video demonstrating the new skills Atlas has learned was published recently where Atlas can be seen jumping over logs and climbing steps without breaking its pace. The robot uses a control software that takes its whole body, including legs, arms and torso, into consideration to marshal the energy and strength for jumping over logs and leaping up steps without breaking pace. Using computer vision, Atlas can locate itself with respect to visible markers on the approach to accurately step on the terrain. You can see Atlas in action here.


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