While snakes are disturbing to some, others are inspired by the way they slither from place to place. Considering their lack of legs, they exhibit very impressive agility, and as hacker Will Donaldson found out, duplicating it can be quite difficult!
His robot uses 10 metal gear servos to actuate sections individually, and getting it to move from point A to B led Donaldson to explore how snakes accomplish this task in the wild. One interesting nugget is that snakes scale are optimized for forward motion — in fact, they have a very hard time going anywhere without them. He experimented with 3D-printed directional scales, but reveals that he actually uses wheels on the bottom of the snake body to enable it to cruise on the floor. He’s even been able to configure a snake to move like an inchworm, though this is extremely slow.
Electronics-wise, the device is powered by an external tether due to the potential power demands of the 10 servos, and everything is controlled via an Arduino Nano. A capacitor is also added near the board in order to avoid any glitches due to the servos starting up.
You can see the robotic snake in action below, and find the 3D-printed parts needed to construct your own on GitHub.