CNET News Video: A snake-inspired robot
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CNET News Video: A snake-inspired robot

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On a recent visit to Pittsburgh, Penn., CNET News.com's Kara Tsuboi dropped by professor Howie Choset's Robotics Lab at Carnegie Mellon University to see his latest creation, the Snakebot.

[ music ] >> Hey there, I'm Kara Suboy, cnetnews.com, and you're looking at video of me shot on the end of a snake inspired robot that could one day be used in search and rescue operations. >> What's nice about this robot is not only can you thread through tightly packed volumes, but you can achieve a variety of locomotion capabilities that other mechanisms can't. >> Inspired by snakes, Professor Howard Joseph's robots are so cool, and so mesmerizing to watch. >> There's certainly no robot in the world that can climb a pole like this. In fact, one thing you may have noticed is that the robot gingerly walks to the pole, and then climbs up it. It was able to exhibit a behavior transition. >> Besides climbing around a pole, this snake bot, outfitted with a camera, can climb vertically through a tube, like a drain pipe. >> So for example, let's say you want to gain a vantage point on top of a building for some reason, you can stick this in the drain pipe, it'll go up to the top of the building, and then you can look out. >> These bots are all designed for search and rescue, and have already been used in disaster training exercises around the world. >> The idea is that there's this collapsed building, and you want to get into this collapsed structure as quickly as possible in order to locate victims, because it's very critical in the first twenty four to forty eight hours to find people, just finding them really saves their lives. Bringing food, water, oxygen, that's icing on the cake. >> Also coming out of Professor Joseph's lab at Carnegie Mellon's robotics institute in Pittsburgh are snake bots to help in medicine. >> This robot here is both rigid and flexible. So if you want to have a heart operation for example, instead of cracking the chest and prying your ribs open, you can enter through the sub [inaudible] process, a quarter inch turn one way, a quarter inch turn another way, and you can perform a whole host of diagnostics and therapeutics on the back side of the heart. >> For surgery the robot is shrunk down to twelve millimeters in diameter. Here's video of it operating on a pig's heart. >> We were able to excise tissue from the backside of the heart in a completely minimally invasive fashion. >> Eventually when used on humans, Joseph says it will have major health and economic benefits. >> You'll be able to go home that day, or the next day, and be back at work by the end of the week, whereas in the past it would take six weeks just to recovery from your breastbone cracked open. >> The snake is not the first animal to inspire robots, and now joins the gecko and certain insects and fish that have all leant their unique abilities and design features to modern technology. I'm Kara Suboy, cnetnews.com. ^M00:02:26 [ music ]

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