Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have been working on a robotic snake that could be used for rescue or scouting purposes and other similar applications, but it has demonstrated a new feature that has some slightly concerned.
A video released by the university earlier this week shows how the robot will snap on and cling to whatever it touches when thrown. As GeekOSystem melodramatically put it, this “terrifying” demonstration shows how it “automatically [constricts] around whatever it comes in contact with — a tree branch, say, or your neck [...].”
See it in action:
But we apparently don’t have too much to worry about. Popular Science reported a statement from the researchers pointing out what the robot can and cannot do (emphasis added):
It’s important to note that there is a difference between wrapping and constricting—this robot snake does the former, but not the latter—it doesn’t squeeze the target, it simply wraps itself around it to allow it to hold on.
Popular Science goes on to report though that it’s “not beyond the pale to consider that constricting could also be added to the snakes’ abilities, especially when noting that the U.S. Army Research Lab is paying for the research.”
If you haven’t had enough of the snake robot, see how it climbs and crawls in this video, which shows some of its scouting and reconnaissance capabilities: