Snakebot inspires dreams, haunts nightmares

Built by robotics students at Carnegie Mellon, Uncle Sam the Snakebot is simultaneously horribly awesome, and awesomely creepy.

Uncle Sam is programmed with a variety of different "gaits", or types of movement patterns, which are based on the real-life behavior of real-life snakes. The goal is to create a modular—and, thus, relatively simple to produce and scale—robot that can get to and through places where people, and less-willies-inducing robots, can't maneuver.

Via Switched


  1. It’s about time that the ladies get to experience the same Freudian terror that we gentlemen get from spider robots.

  2. A former co-worker of mine, Dr. Gavin Miller, has been researching natural systems simulation for decades. As a side hobby he designed and built some amazing snake robots that very effectively convey the natural motions of teh real thing/

    There’s a video here:

    And this is his site:

  3. Something like that would have a much easier time with the sand pits and boulders on Mars. Just gotta figure out how to mount a solar panel. Maybe a soft one that unrolls?

    …but it wouldn’t be as much fun to anthropomorphize. (One reason why we shouldn’t be doing that shit! They’ll avoid the best performing design in favor of the best looking design.)

  4. The problem is that it requires a lot of power. It probably couldn’t carry its own power source for very long.

  5. I became suspicious when considering the editing decisions – at no point do we see the snake actually performing the climb in full frame. We see before, in progress (incomplete shot), and after. The opportunity for human assistance is there, but my doubts were assuaged by watching other videos – it does perform well (on plastic at least.) Edit your videos better so we can see the entire action, I’d be interested in it for sure. Sorry for being that crazy youtube commenter I never wanted to be.

    thought I’d drop my youtube comment here, as boing boing readers are skeptics, right?

    Least you can get from this is a lesson on the power of editing, hehe. [or proof that people are parnoid]

    1. That’s because the power cord keeps getting in the way and ruining the illusion. You can see it get tangled at the start of the tree climb.

  6. “The goal is to create a modular—and, thus, relatively simple to produce and scale—robot that can get to and through places where people, and less-willies-inducing robots, can’t maneuver.”

    Sooooooo, what you’re saying is, they’re trying to create a BETTER METAL SNAKE??? \m/(*~*)\m/

  7. omg evil paul, you win this thread.

    can you even do that on boing boing?

    to remain relevant to the topic.. i really enjoyed how the snakebot climbed the tree, but is that how real snaks really do it?

    in my mind that was just some creative programming on the designers part

  8. Mark my words, it’s sh*t like this that will lead to the Robot Uprising.

    One more engineer building a big spiky death machine because he (or she, but let’s be serious here, he) “thought it would be cool” is one more step closer to those machines becoming self-aware, getting together and then it’s all screaming and running and shotguns as they try to strip the still-living flesh from our bones to power their bio-reactor power sources.

  9. I was O.K. with it until it was up on the tree looking around. Then I wanted to get out my robo-hoe and chop its robo-head off.

  10. This can only lead to untold horrors. I see ‘Snakes on a Plane: Rise of the Machines’ in the future.

  11. AGGGGHHHHHH! Do these engineers not remember the calculated precision put into the descriptions of the killer robo-dog in “Fahrenheit 451?” Sure, they’re slow and clunky, now. So were Ataris. Damnation.

  12. so cool to have stumbled upon this, because i work in the snake lab here at CMU. these things are so much fun to work with.

  13. Only problem here is the out of sight umbilical cord which supplys power & takes back data to computer that controls it.ofcourse there is the probably car(auto) battery for power… apart from that its a good idea with a long way to go.

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