Float like a butterfly, swim like a robosnake

Robot snake

Okay so, technically, no robot butterflies yet (that we know of!) — but we do have a new robot snake, and we'll give you just one guess which country gave birth to it. The Bio-Mimetic Control Research Center, working under the umbrella of Japan's (of course Japan, silly!) government-backed research institute Riken, yesterday announced they had completed work on a snake-like robot capable of finely mimicking the reptile's movements, including being able to swim by wriggling its body. According to Toshiharu Mukai, head of the research team, this hyper-flexible robot is the "first of its kind." We know it's not the first snake robot — the U.S. military and NASA have built some of those, as has China — so we're not exactly sure what kind of first it is. But since the other half of Mukai's research involves something called "robust eigenspace method," we're gonna imagine he's smart enough to know what he's talking about.