A robotic snake developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University has suddenly gained a frightening new power— the ability to hug things. Last week, the university's Biorobotics Laboratory published a new video of its modular snake, demonstrating the robot's ability to reactively latch on to objects. When thrown against a pole, the robot automatically wraps itself around it, securely grasping to it in a constrictor-like hold.
The Biorobotics Laboratory has been developing robotic snakes for a few years now, as part of its ongoing efforts to mimic a serpent's natural movements. The idea is to create a robot capable of slithering into tight spaces, perhaps for scouting or search-and-rescue missions. Researchers have also incorporated movements not seen in real snakes, including "corkscrewing" and "pipe rolling" — an action whereby the snake wraps itself around a pole and moves forward.
The robot's new capability may seem tailor-made for choking small animals, but according to Wired, constriction remains out of its purview; the snake only grasps objects with enough strength to keep itself perched.