Pål Liljebäck of SINTEF created a snake-like robot that can crawl into places too dangerous for humans to enter. Best of all - it's powered by water!
The snake contains 20 water hydraulic motors that move the robotic joints – and a similar number of valves to control the water flow to each motor. Each module consists of two hydraulic motors and two valves. The outer layer is comprised of a strong steel skeleton containing the joint modules,which can rotate around two orthogonal axes. The joints are controlled by custom-built electronics.
“It is much like the grab on an excavator where different joints and movements are coordinated by the operator. In this instance, the operator is the computer,” says Pål Liljebäck of SINTEF. “There are angle sensors in each joint, and we can decide with conplete accuracy the angle that we want in the joints. A camera in the snake’s head makes operating the snake like driving a remote-controlled car. The operator can tell the snake to move from A to B, and the snake works out on its own how to accomplish this. It knows how to cross a pile of materials, climb down on the back side and twist itself round objects in order to get footing.”