Inventor develops robot that allows snakes to ‘walk’ – News

Los Angeles-based engineer and YouTuber Allen Pan created a robot that allows snakes to “walk”. The inventor made the device from a long tube and four plastic legs, connected to a controller board, similar to a mockup of a railway that automatically rotates around a rail.

Pan, who posted a video of her project on YouTube, said she wanted to “give snakes their legs back”. The footage shows the reptile curiously poking its head out of the device as it is carried serenely across the room.

Around 150 million years ago, snakes had visible legs but evolved to lose them, likely due to a genetic mutation.

“I really feel bad for the snakes, they have lost their legs and nobody is trying to find them, nobody but me,” the engineer said in the video.

The inventor was inspired by the western three-toed lizard (Chalcides striatus), a species with four tiny, snake-like legs. “They might be the closest thing I could find to a real snake with legs,” she said.

The “legs” can be activated wirelessly using a small tag attached to a key ring and programmed into a laptop.

Pan’s wish was for a design where the snake could “choose to put on or take off” the device, so the animal wouldn’t be forced into devices against its will, which would be unethical.

He also visited a pet store to observe how a reptile moves and program the robot to walk in a similar way. “With this visual data, I was able to reconstruct how a snake might walk if it still had legs,” he explained.

The YouTuber then visited Anthony Zavala, a snake farmer based in Temecula, California, to try out the robot on a willing animal.

When Zavala first tried to place the snake in the tube, it advanced a few inches before coming back. However, with persistence, the reptile slipped into the tube until its head was protruding from the other side, and the robot was able to start moving.

In the video, the animal can be seen with its tongue out, a sign that it is trying to get a sense of its surroundings. “I can’t get over the image of the snake crawling around on its robotic exoskeleton,” said Pan.

He also stated that an angry snake will make an S with its body, while a satisfied snake will relax and stretch “like a noodle”. Because of this and the straight shape of the plastic tube, it means that only “happy snakes” are able to use the robotic legs.

The inventor concluded the video by saying he reversed “150 million years of evolutionary errors” in a single day.

* Intern at R7under the supervision of Raphael Hakime

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