They look like technology straight out of a "Mission: Impossible" movie: robot snakes armed with flashlights and hidden cameras, designed to slither through tight spaces, crawl through tubes, swim, and now climb trees.
Called "modsnakes" (the latest version is affectionately called "Uncle Sam"), the robots are based in biotechnology which mimics the movement of real snakes, according to Physorg.com. Researchers hope that once the design has been perfected, the robots can be used to complete a variety of tasks such as locating survivors in collapsed buildings after a natural disaster, inspecting bridges, mines or other spaces too tight for human workers, and even for disarming bombs.
It's fun to imagine them being used as spy technology or as versatile exploratory rovers on other planets, too. The design is applicable in a variety of uses. (For now, they are just really cool to play with.) Check out this video showcasing the robot's many talents:
Researchers admit that a lot of work needs to be done before the snakes can be used in a practical setting. For one, the robots are still reliant upon an attached cord for their power supply. Their new tree-climbing skill is also only applicable to trees and branches of a particular diameter.
Even so, the robotic snake's range of motion is impressive, and previous versions of the modsnake have already been tested in disaster training exercises. It may not be long before a slithering Uncle Sam redefines how we think of snakes — and robots — forever.