Robot makes 'Snakes and Ladders' horrifyingly literal

It looks scary, but could help disaster rescuers access tight spaces.

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Kyoto University and University of Electro-Communications
Kyoto University and University of Electro-Communications

Robots can't yet think for themselves, but if they ever do, you'll have nowhere to hide. Researchers from Kyoto University and the University of Electro-Communications unveiled a snake-like robot that can climb up a ladder in a terrifying version of the children's board game. It's not the first robot snake we've ever seen, but this latest model, unveiled at the 2018 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, looks like the most agile one yet.

For now, it does just one thing and does it well. "This paper presents a method that allows a snake robot to climb a ladder," the abstract states. "We designed a novel gait for the snake using a gait design method that configures the target form of the snake robot by connecting simple shapes. The climbing motion is executed via shift control and the corresponding motion required to catch the next step on the ladder. In addition, we developed a snake robot that has a smooth exterior body surface through construction of pectinate-shaped parts of the links."

Jokes aside, the snakebot (it really needs a better name if you have any suggestions) could serve a very useful purpose. With the ability to climb both inclined and vertical ladders, it could access disaster areas where rescuers can't go to look for survivors or enter into a mine after a collapse. Even if they don't do anything with it, it's kind of cool in a creepy way to just watch it in action, in the video below.

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