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Japanese TORo II gallops ahead at a mechanical snail's pace (video)

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Snails with benefits? Our salt shaker might disagree. But some enterprising engineers over at Japan's Chuo University managed to turn this garden-variety pest into fodder for mechatronic inspiration. Based on the gastropod's preferred method of 'galloping' -- wherein waves of foot-to-head muscle contractions propel it forward -- researchers at the Mechatronics Lab created TORo II, an omnidirectional robot that could make its way to a hospital near you. Why's that? Well, the bot's large gripped surface area makes it ideal for narrow, slippery environments -- so it won't budge if knocked into (though you might wind up on the emergency room floor). Although the unique movement technique has been used to create other mecha-mollusks in the past, the team behind this project made sure to create some of their own ceiling and wall-climbing critters -- suction definitely included. We admit, we kind of feel guilty about the sodium chloride transgressions of our youth. And now that we know snails can be useful, it's only a matter of time before the bedbug gets repurposed. Full omnidirectional video awesomeness after the break.

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