Howie Choset, a Carnegie Mello University Professor, has been working on robots shaped like snakes.

This isn’t some new toy to display at CES for the kiddies. These robots have a useful purpose. Their goal is to snake through cracks, around pipes and rubble and find victims buried alive after natural disasters.

The application is smart and according to Sam Stover, a search team member of FEMA, “We needed them yesterday.”

“Built from lightweight aluminum or plastic, the robots are about the size of a human arm or smaller. They are semiautonomous and can sense which way is up, but are only as good as their human operators.

‘The rescue workers are the heroes,’ he said. ‘These are just better tools.’

The robots, with nicknames such as ‘Breadstick’ and ‘Pepperoni,’ have successfully inched up the insides and outsides of storm drains, negotiated large gaps between pieces of debris, and maneuvered through underbrush and fences, Choset said.

At a Carnegie Mellon lab, one of the robots wiggled up and down a clear plastic tube.

Snake-Like Robots Made to Aid in Rescues – Yahoo! News: