These Robotic Legs Slither and Wiggle Like a Snake

Recently, YouTuber Allen Pan gave a snake robotic legs in case it wanted to walk around. James Bruton saw that and instead of just saying “huh” and moving on, he decided to make a set that move in a more snake-like manner. Because if a snake is going to have robotic legs at all, I guess it makes sense for the legs themselves to move like snakes. Whether or not that makes any sense whatsoever, the video below shows off the 3D-printed project for these snake robot legs. Unlike Pan’s though, there’s no actual snake in this one. Hopefully that will come in a follow-up post. Those who are ophidiophobic, or terrified of snakes, may be happy with the lack of serpent test subject.

Like Pan, Bruton uses programmable servos to control the motion of each snake robot leg. He bases the build of his set of six legs off of a LEGO build of tentacle arms. Each joint is offset 45 degrees from the others, giving it that wiggly motion. It still doesn’t quite translate a snake’s body movement into legs. That is harder than it seems, even for bioengineering professionals. There’s a team of scientists at Georgia Institute of Technology working on a robot that wiggles its body like a lizard, which requires the body and the legs to both move. Bruton could also check out this tentacle-armed robot from Harvard researchers for inspiration, though really it looks more like a jellyfish.

A robot with six orange segmented legs
James Bruton

Other robotic builds on the James Bruton YouTube channel include an omni-directional vehicle that looks like a lot of fun to ride on and a robot that punches you in the face while you’re playing virtual reality games, which sounds like considerably less fun. But they are all 3D-printed projects that take a lot of planning and work.

Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth. 

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