Military Robotics

The Spy Who Wouldn't Die

Posted 23 Aug 2003 at 18:22 UTC by The Swirling Brain Share This

NewScientist has an article about a British 007 spy snake robot can survive battlefield damage. The snakebot is made up of many segments that move through the use of nitinol muscle wire. If one of the snakebot's segments becomes damaged or disabled, the other links can relearn its locomotion. The snakebot has clevar built-in genetic algorithm software to rearrange its undulating so that it can drag along a dead link, and keep on going, albeit less gracefully and probably slower, to allow the robot to still arrive at its destination. The snakebot hasn't managed to slither out of the lab yet, or really self-heal yet, or really evolve yet, but they claim that Darwin would be proud of it if he were still alive. This built-in adaptation concept should keep the robot at its fittest as parts die off and prolong its survival until its inevitable extinction.

Nitinol? Why?, posted 23 Aug 2003 at 18:57 UTC by The Swirling Brain » (Master)

Nitinol Wire is very power expensive and low in pull strength and super slow. I don't expect this robot will ever overcome those big obstacles and become a real robot for use. If you look around to find out which robots use nitinol wire, you'll find the "Stiquito" which is a dinky robot that is tethered, meaning it doesn't have an onboard computer or batteries, and is made out of light foam core board, and still moves so slowly that you fall asleep watching it. I think they've quit selling it because it was so bad. Untethered robots that use nitinol wire run out of juice quickly, go so slowly that you can't stand it, and therefore don't get very far before running down. I'm afraid this robot will be extinct in no time unless they change the design and use some other mechanical means of locomotion. Nitinol wire is not good for locomotion on a robot, but it may be good for sensors or something where it doesn't require much power or pull strength nor cycle time.

Nope they are still around...., posted 24 Aug 2003 at 13:30 UTC by earlwb » (Master)

It is still alive and well and has shown it can survive mass extinctions. Besides all the big bookstores still seem to have some on hand to sell in book form with or without the robot. is their official website. Lots of parts and robots still for sale.

Bought one but . . . , posted 24 Aug 2003 at 23:10 UTC by jstrohm » (Observer)

I bought a Staquito but never finished it. I got one leg finished just to see how it worked and it was neat but too many requirements to work properly for a larger robot.

It seemed that to make a real leg with any true use you really needed a way to monitor the temperature of the wire to correctly decide how long to apply current. It relied way to heavly on ambient temperature for me to use it. If you applied current for too long you ended up with either a smoking or in the least a damaged wire.

Too many requirements and not enough features in my opinion but still worth playing with.

I've got mine too..., posted 25 Aug 2003 at 14:42 UTC by earlwb » (Master)

I've got one too, but I haven't cracked the seal yet. Haven't had the time to play with it yet. I was looking at the little Analog Controller they have, it is a ULN2803 darlington driver with a 555 timer, that mounts on top of the robot itself. Anyway, that controller can make it move forward at different "breathtaking" speeds. (pun intended :) ) I lately have been thinking about using a Atmega 8 mini PCb with a ULN2803 or 2003 driver to control it as well. Put a little IR object detector on the front and it can move around and basically not bump into things. Of course it still can't carry a battery pack, so it is still tethered to an external battery pack. But then maybe it can handle the weight of one 138mah 4v lion cell or maybe three or four 40mah nmh or nicad cells. I'll have to think about it some.

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