A sidewinder rattlesnake is training a robot how to turn and navigate tight corners.
The work, by researchers at Georgia Tech, Zoo Atlanta and Carnegie Mellon, continues efforts to both understand the biomechanics of the organism and to improve movements in limbless robots.
During studies of the real snake, the team realized that sidewinders control their movement through soft sand by undulating in horizontal and vertical body waves.
The animals are very maneuverable by using these waves independently. Along with forward propulsion, modulating the two waves allows them to make shallow changes to their direction of travel, which the team calls differential turning. Sidewinders can also perform sharp reversal turns by altering their two body waves. Learn more below.