This Robot Snake Is Way, Way Bigger Than You Think It Is

In fact, this robot snake is big enough to eat you. RUN!

1 min read
This Robot Snake Is Way, Way Bigger Than You Think It Is

Hey look, it's a robot snake. We've seen lots of robot snakes. We like robot snakes. What this picture doesn't properly communicate, though, is that this particular robot snake is large enough to swallow you whole. 

Yeah, uh, it's big. Very big. Called Titanoboa (after an actual prehistoric snake of the same size), when completed this robot will be 15 meters long (50 feet), weigh a ton (literally), and range in diameter from 0.3 to 1 meter (1 to 3 feet), which is easily enough to down a skinny human without even chewing. A scalable lithium-ion battery system powers the hydraulics, which can output up to 18 horsepower, meaning that this thing could quite easily drag you away with it if it so chose, presumably to strangle and then eat you, 'cause that's what snakes do.

Of course, it would have to catch you first, but Titanoboa seems to have no issues whatsoever when it comes to snakelike movement:

That spider thing, by the way, is called Mondo Spider, you can totally ride in it, and there's more info here.

Titanoboa made an appearance at Burning Man this year, and if you happen to live up in Vancouver, you can see it at its home base at Great Northern Way Campus on December 15.

[ Titanoboa ] via [ CrabFu ]

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Robot with threads near a fallen branch

RoMan, the Army Research Laboratory's robotic manipulator, considers the best way to grasp and move a tree branch at the Adelphi Laboratory Center, in Maryland.

Evan Ackerman
LightGreen

This article is part of our special report on AI, “The Great AI Reckoning.

"I should probably not be standing this close," I think to myself, as the robot slowly approaches a large tree branch on the floor in front of me. It's not the size of the branch that makes me nervous—it's that the robot is operating autonomously, and that while I know what it's supposed to do, I'm not entirely sure what it will do. If everything works the way the roboticists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Md., expect, the robot will identify the branch, grasp it, and drag it out of the way. These folks know what they're doing, but I've spent enough time around robots that I take a small step backwards anyway.

The robot, named RoMan, for Robotic Manipulator, is about the size of a large lawn mower, with a tracked base that helps it handle most kinds of terrain. At the front, it has a squat torso equipped with cameras and depth sensors, as well as a pair of arms that were harvested from a prototype disaster-response robot originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a DARPA robotics competition. RoMan's job today is roadway clearing, a multistep task that ARL wants the robot to complete as autonomously as possible. Instead of instructing the robot to grasp specific objects in specific ways and move them to specific places, the operators tell RoMan to "go clear a path." It's then up to the robot to make all the decisions necessary to achieve that objective.

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