Air Date: Week of November 10, 2000
Living on Earth’s Cynthia Graber reports on a new snake-like robot that’s designed to explore distant planets.
GRABER: On earth, they slither over rocks, through dirt and sand - and now they may help us discover what lurks in outer space. Exploring the unknown demands flexibility, and robots modeled on how snakes move can go almost anywhere. They can slide through cracks, wind over gravel, or scooch like a centipede over boulders. The first snakebot was designed to rummage through earthquake rubble. It was modeled on a remote controlled car and went where humans told it to go. But, in space it wouldn't be able to respond to commands fast enough to avoid hitting obstacles. So, NASA scientists are working on a new, improved version. Their snakebot will have sensors so delicate the machine can actually feel obstacles in its path, even determine the quality of the sand it squiggles across. This way, the snakebot can get to get from point A to point B without breaking too many circuits. That's this week's technology update. I'm Cynthia Graber.
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