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By studying snakes, engineers learn how to build better robots

February 21, 2020

Snakes live in diverse environments ranging from unbearably hot deserts to lush tropical forests. But regardless of their habitat, they are able to slither up trees, rocks, and shrubbery with ease. By studying how the creatures move, a team of Johns Hopkins engineers have created a snake robot that can nimbly and stably climb large steps.

The team’s new findings, published in Journal of Experimental Biology and Royal Society Open Science, could advance the creation of search and rescue robots that can successfully navigate treacherous terrain.

“We look to these creepy creatures for movement inspiration because they’re already so adept at stably scaling obstacles in their day-to-day lives,” says Chen Li, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Johns Hopkins University and the papers’ senior author. “Hopefully our robot can learn how to bob and weave across surfaces just like snakes.”

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