Swimming Snake Robot Is Not Scary, Just Wants to Make Sure Navy Ships Are OK

The underwater snake robot is a swimming version of a previous model 6 photos
Photo: Carnegie Mellon University
The Hardened Underwater Modular Robot SnakeThe Hardened Underwater Modular Robot SnakeThe Hardened Underwater Modular Robot SnakeThe Hardened Underwater Modular Robot SnakeThe Hardened Underwater Modular Robot Snake
This underwater robot snake looks like fun, but it has an important job to do. The result of a collaboration between the Carnegie Mellon University, the ARM Institute and the Department of Defense, this modular robot that can swim is designed to inspect ships and submarines.
Checking ships and submarines for damage is not an easy task. And it’s not cheap, either. It takes considerable effort for divers to actually go and inspect ships, and it can only be done when they are not at sea. The military needed a better solution for damage inspection and routine maintenance that are performed underwater and this is how a new project was born.

Researchers from the Biorobotics Lab at Carnegie Mellon University developed an interesting solution for the Department of Defense, through a grant they received from the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Institute. CMU’s “snakebot” concept was already famous, they just had to teach it how to swim.

The new ship inspector doesn’t have the friendliest-sounding name - Hardened Underwater Modular Robot Snake (HUMRS) – but it’s harmless. Unlike other similar submersible robots, this one is slim and flexible, which means it can swim into narrow spaces and reach difficult corners. It’s made from the same type of watertight modules as previous versions of the snake robot, with added turbines and thrusters that make it maneuverable underwater.

Thanks to these features, the swimming robot snake can easily inspect submarines and ships while they are at sea, which saves precious time and allows the crew to know immediately when there is critical damage. Plus, information regarding the ship’s condition can be transmitted before it returns to port, also saving time and increasing efficiency.

But this robot inspector is great not just for the military, but other industries as well. It can check underwater pipes, offshore oil rigs and liquid-filled tanks. And who knows what’s in store next, for the HUMRS?

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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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