What good are legs or wheels? Scientists at the University of Michigan say that a serpentine stucture gives their bot superior mobility.
Snakebot slithers through rough terrain
The OmniTread, a snakelike robot developed at the University of Michigan, moves by rolling like a log or inching along as an inchworm would. The device's treads are meant to make it hardier than a robot with wheels, the university said. Continue to pages two through five of this gallery for more images of the OmniTread.
Bellows in the OmniTread's five sections can be inflated or deflated to lift different parts of the bot's body. In one test, the OmniTread climbed an 18-inch curb--which is more than twice as tall as the snakebot itself. The OmniTread is controlled via a joystick and an umbilical cord, which also supplies power to the unit. Researchers are also working on a smaller version of the bot that will have an onboard power source.
The OmniTread has no problem burrowing through tunnels. It's hoped that the robot can be useful for tasks such as hazardous inspections and surveillance in industrial and military settings, Johann Borenstein, head of the university's mobile-robotics lab, said in a statement.