Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) have spent anumber of years developing modular snake-like robots for all kinds of purposes, and the latest adaptation sees its serpent-inspired tech headed underwater. The team has developed a submersible SnakeBot capable of navigating tight spaces, which the scientists hope will see it used to inspect ships for the military, or investigate underwater pipes for blockages.
The latest version of CMU's SnakeBot is dubbed the Hardened Underwater Modular Robot Snake (HUMRS), and like its predecessors, features a modular, reconfigurable design. We have seen previous versions packed with everything from force-sensing feet to tank-style treads, or cameras to investigate pipes in nuclear power plants and surgical tools to grasp and cut tissue in human patients.
This time around, the team has pieced together modules that include thrusters, buoyancy control systems, rotary articulation devices, inspection sensors and manipulation grippers to form an underwater version. The HUMRS was recently plunged into the pool at the university, where it made its way through underwater hoops to demonstrate its maneuverability.
"We can go places that other robots cannot," said Professor of Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University, Howie Choset. "It can snake around and squeeze into hard-to-reach underwater spaces."