In addition to completely freaking us out, it turns out that the robotic snakes being developed at universities like Carnegie Mellonsome serve some practical purposes as well. A company called Medrobotics Corporation will soon begin marketing robot snake-assisted surgical device designed to crawl down a patient’s throat. Yeah, that’s far less creepy.
Since the snakebot comes equipped with a high-definition camera on the end, as well as medical implements that can be remotely operated, a surgeon can use a joystick to easily guide it down a patient's throat. Thanks to research done at Carnegie Mellon, the robot's individual segments play 'follow-the-leader' as they move along, so that the snake stays conformed to the anatomical curves in the human throat.
The entire concept sounds like a nightmare come true if a patient were to wake up during a snake session, but the technology does promise to make more procedures minimally invasive. Which in turn means shorter stays in hospitals reducing costs, and faster recoveries for patients. It just won't do anything to cure someone's fear of snakes. [Carnegie Mellon The Robotics Institute via Gizmag]