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Carnegie Mellon's Six-Legged 'snake Monster' Is First of New Breed of Reconfigurable Modular Robots


Carnegie Mellon University's Snake Monster robot.

The Snake Monster is a six-legged modular robot that can be reconfigured to meet a user's needs.

Credit: Carnegie Mellon News (PA)

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) researchers have developed the Snake Monster, a six-legged modular robot that can be reconfigured to meet a user's needs.

"By creating a system that can be readily reconfigured and that also is easy to program, we believe we can build robots that are not only robust and flexible, but also inexpensive," says CMU professor Howie Choset.

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency sponsored the research work through its Maximum Mobility and Manipulation program, which focuses on ways to design and build robots more rapidly and enhance their ability to manipulate objects and move in natural environments.

Applications for the Snake Monster and other modular robots include urban search and rescue, archaeological exploration, and inspection of power plants, refineries, and sewers.

To build the robot, the researchers used the hardware expertise developed in snake robots to build small, powerful modules and used the lessons learned in controlling the snakebots to create a system architecture that can be programmed to control robots with a wide variety of configurations.

"When we push the Snake Monster forward, the joints in the leg 'feel' the force of the robot being pushed and, then, in an effort to zero-out the force it feels, the robot walks in the direction it is being pushed," Choset says.

From Carnegie Mellon News (PA)
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