July 16, 2012 at 2:03 PM ET
For those who like to keep snakes and robots at an arm’s distance, don’t watch this video. It shows a snake-bot climb a pole and coil around a guy’s bicep.
Carnegie Mellon University’s modular snake robots have been in development for years, primarily as a tool to access tight spaces that are out of reach to humans, other machines and rescue dogs.
The latest advancement shown off in the video clip is the robot’s ability to automatically adapt to changes in its environment. Until now, most of the robot’s motions were remotely controlled.
The pole it climbs is four inches in diameter at its base. When the pole dwindles to a two-inch diameter, the robot transitions without any input and keeps on adapting to coil around the guy’s arm.
When in human contact, the robot is said to exert enough force to climb, but not enough to be uncomfortable.
Fortunately, the test subject reached the computer in time to turn off the robot's power before he found out if that comfort level was maintained with a robo-snake coiled around his neck.
— Via Gizmodo