Watch the snake robot swimming

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When the sea snake When swimming, they would meander through the water by shaking their flat tails. This is very graceful, but requires a lot of coordination.So when the roboticists at Carnegie Mellon University thought it was time Robot lubricates snake Sheung Shui, they took a shortcut. They approximated the extremely complex biomechanics of a snake, and then installed the propeller on the machine.

The result is an invisible torpedo with no warhead: a hardened underwater modular robot snake. As you can see in the video below, it manages some impressive swimming by combining the rear thrusters and the lateral thrusters along the body to generate forward motion to stabilize the control, and it also uses some Bend joint (Actuator) To locate the lateral thruster. “This is less inspired by biology, but it is still a very good robot,” said CMU roboticist Howie Choset, who co-developed the machine. “We are doing something in the middle. We are trying to use conventional motors and drives to mimic the movement as much as possible, perhaps on a macro level.”

Provided by CMU

That is the beauty of robotics—engineers do not have to follow the rules of natural selection. Josette and his colleagues wanted a robot that the U.S. Navy could use to inspect ships and submarines that could slide into confined spaces, such as ballast tanks. But it is safe to say that the Navy does not need snakebite robots. “With the development of biology, it is developing system“, Choset said. “It is not developing a unique function. Therefore, snakes can glide on the ground in a unique way, but snakes also poop, eat, and reproduce-there are everything else on the boat that can keep snakes alive, but they certainly won’t play a role in a locomotive. Anyway. “

Think about the comparison between a bird and a passenger plane. This is inspired by biology. It generates lift with wings, but these wings are fixed and paired with jet engines. And they missed some of the additional functions that nature provides for birds. Josette said: “The plane flies long distances, but the wings do not swing or feathers.”

Choset’s team can design snakes in a way that is fundamentally different from evolution. The land-based version of their robot uses a uniformly moving actuator to propel the machine forward, which is similar to a real snake. But in the water, the robot has no hard objects to push away. Throw the ground version into the pool and it will sink like a very expensive stone. Therefore, instead of recreating the hypnotic winding action of the sea snake (complex coordination between muscles and bones), the researchers chose to push and manipulate the robot’s thrusters.

Provided by CMU

At present, the robot’s swimming is not particularly complicated, although the operator can use the camera in the snake’s “face” to remotely control the machine through the underwater hoop. But the team’s idea is to refine the algorithms that control its movement by using machine learning: by building a digital version of the robot in simulation, the artificial intelligence can try many random swimming methods, and eventually fall into the most effective way of movement through trial and error. Then, Choset’s team will transplant this knowledge into real-world robots, thereby giving it the maneuverability it really needs in narrow spaces.In fact, other robotics experts are using other machines that imitate animal movements, such as teaching dog-style quadruped robots How to go Or adapt Different kinds of surfaces.

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