Snakes, and their total absence of limbs, make them some of the most terrifying creatures on the planet. Not to mention the variety of ways snakes can kill us. Why then must science create a robotic version of Satan's avatar?
The Biorobotics Lab at Carnegie Mellon University has been hard at work on what they call a modular snake robot. Why would they create such a thing? Here's how they explain it:
Snake robots can use their many internal degrees of freedom to thread through tightly packed volumes accessing locations that people and machinery otherwise cannot use. Moreover, these highly articulated devices can coordinate their internal degrees of freedom to perform a variety of locomotion capabilities that go beyond the capabilities of conventional wheeled and the recently developed legged robots. The true power of these devices is that they are versatile, achieving behaviors not limited to crawling, climbing, and swimming.
That actually sounds pretty useful. I'm sure a number of industries, including defense, could do some pretty amazing things with a robot that can move in and out of tight spaces. So why is this particularly robot so terrifying? Just watch this:
As you can see, our robot snake friend here can immediately constrict around a object after being thrown at it. Sure, it looks cool at first, until you realize that somebody (or some robot) may one day throw this thing at your neck. It's hard enough already to fight off a Boa Constrictor. Just imagine how hard it would be to fight off a robot snake whose sole directive is snuffing out the life you hold dear.[h/t: Wired]