This robotic snake has apparently recently been declassified after decades of work, though the agency responsible for classifying it remains unspecified. Regardless, it’s a very impressive and unusually lifelike robot, with some extremely useful real-life applications.
The robosnake is modular, meaning its separate segments can be attached in any number desired. In between the segments are hollow, flexible lengths of tube that allow the robot to twist and turn and propel itself forward, in addition to providing much-needed buoyancy.
That’s right, buoyancy: the robosnake is also amphibious, capable of (at the very least) swimming on the surface of water. That affinity for water is a vital part of its possible future use.
The two most obvious applications are military and medical. A snake-like robot, equipped with a camera and microphone in its “head,” would be ideal for squirming into and around debris in a war zone, better than any traditional tank- or car-like robot.
The medical uses are a bit more…unsettling. If the robot can be effectively scaled down, and I mean way down, it has the potential to be used as a sort of moving endoscope for internal surgical exploration. Instead of jamming a flexible tube into a person, the robosnake could swim freely, controlled remotely, and deliver photo and video better than current methods.
Here’s a video of it moving around. You have to see it to believe it:
No word on when this robot will be out and about, but you can check out a better video of it in action over at Discovery.