Carnegie Mellon team mimics sidewinder rattlesnake movement with robots

Carnegie Mellon team mimics sidewinder rattlesnake movement with robots

Researchers have revealed the strategy adopted by the ‘sidewinder’ rattlesnakes while they climb up the slippery sand dunes.

The researchers, in order to unveil the mystery behind the peculiar trait of sidewinder, planned to make a robot that could tap into snake locomotion. Modsnake, a modular robotic snake developed at Carnegie Mellon, has been developed to copy sidewinders gait. The robot still misses some of the traits of the real snake.

The Modsnake robot was programmed to move by passing both horizontal and vertical waves through its body in order to move into three-dimensional space.

Researchers said when the Modsnake was placed on the steep sandy slope its body digs into the sand. They added that the Modsnake even faced a difficulty on sandy slopes.

While closely observing the sidewinder snake, the research team found that the snake flattened itself on the sand so that it could stay low and increase its body contact with the sand. They also observed that sidewinder moved only the part of the body that was lifted and moved forward by holding the part that was in contact with the sand.

Hamid Marvi, a postdoctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon who conducted the experiments, said, “We realized that the sidewinder snakes use a template for climbing on sand, two orthogonal waves that they can control independently”.

Marvi said that the snake robot has helped to systematically study the failure modes during sidewinding. They found that there are three different failure regimes, which can be avoided carefully by adjusting the aspect ratio of the two waves.

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