Norwegian researchers have developed a hydraulically powered robot snake powerful enough to break through walls and perform life-saving operations in emergency situations.
The robot, being developed at research facility SINTEF, can climb up stairs, force its way past beams and twist itself round corners. It can be fitted with a controllable directional hose to extinguish fires.
The snake contains 20 water hydraulic motors that move the robotic joints and a similar number of valves to control the water flow to each motor. Each module consists of two hydraulic motors and two valves. The outer layer is comprised of a strong steel exoskeleton containing the joint modules, which can rotate around two orthogonal axes. The joints are controlled by custom-built electronics.
The joints are powered by 100 bars of hydraulic water pressure, enough to lift a car off the ground, giving the snake sufficient strength to break through a wall.
The snake has a wide variety of potential applications. It could fight fires where humans cannot enter due to heat or the risk of building collapse. It could also carry out underwater oil installation maintenance or rescue operations in earthquake areas and potentially explosive situations.
The snake can be fitted with a number of modules, making it possible to design snakes for different functions. These could include bringing oxygen masks to people trapped in the tunnel, lighting up the tunnel or carrying a camera that provides firefighters outside an overview of the situation without requiring them to enter.