Israel develops spying snake

Although robotic serpents are not a brand-new idea, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has been developing a robot spy snake capable of recording both video and audio across a variety of battlefield terrains.

The robot is about 6.5 feet long and covered with camouflage (though if examined from close range, it’s not going to fool anyone). To make it, researchers studied the movements of live snakes, so as to make the mechanical version’s movements as realistic as possible. Controllable by laptop, the spying serpent uses its flexible joints to slither around and squeeze through caves, tunnels, pipes, crevices and buildings, all the while sending images back to the base. It can also hoist itself up, snake-charmer style, to view over obstructions to its line of vision.

When it officially joins the ranks of the IDF’s techie gadgets, the robot should be able to help in rescuing people hidden within collapsed buildings. On the flip side, the extra functionality that’s still being worked on is the ability for the snake to carry and place explosives.

The development of the spy gadget was based on a project carried out by the Ben-Gurion University in Israel, which created not only a robotic snake, but also a robotic feline that can scale walls and a canine robot that responds to people’s movements.

What the IDF snake cannot do is glide through water, which is a feature of the 2005 Japanese serpent robot developed by the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

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