Forget legs or treads or wheels, everyone, because tomorrow's robots will traverse the earth on a thin film of slime, just like the humble snail. At least, that's MIT associate professor Anette Hosoi's vision of our robot future, and she has the "Robosnail" prototype to prove it. Since 2003, Hosoi and a revolving cadre of students have studied her terrarium full of more than 200 snails in an attempt to recreate their slimy way of locomotion in a robot. They've since got a working model together that can climb tree bark, walls, and—coming soon—perform invasive surgery procedures near you!
The Robosnail moves along various surfaces using moveable segments that ripple along a synthetic slime. Because the slime allows the robot to traverse vertical surfaces and even ceilings, Hosoi hopes to be able to deploy similar robots to adverse environments in the near future. It would be kind of like the slowest bomb sniffing or exploratory robot of all time, that can go anywhere, eventually.
Now, this sounds cool and you can call me shallow all you want, folks, but I don't Tricia Helfer would be *quite* as hot slithering around the universe on a trail of slime instead of those long legs of hers. Just an opinion. [CNN]