velox devices

Robotic Snake

We built this cool toy to verify some  algorithms we’ve been  developing for redundant robot motion control. It moves like a real snake - by bending its body.

The robotic snake can have an arbitrary number of limbs, each of them controlled by its own microprocessor. Overall control is provided by a Windows application using a joystick

At present, the robot is being equipped with a 2.4GHz wireless transceiver and LiPoly batteries to get rid of the control wire. A wireless video camera on the nose transmits the snake’s “point of view”. The received video is then  displayed inside the control application, allowing the operator to steer the snake remotely.

motor controller

Single limb controller, actual size

The motion control is not hard coded or limited to a certain type of curve, which is the case with most robotic snakes built so far. Each limb has feedback so the control system tracks the shape at all times. If external objects restrict the motion, the robot adapts to them and the resulting behavior is remarkably close to a real snake.

During motion, the robotic snake can be caught and bent to a random shape. When released, it smoothly resumes motion.

Each limb controller has a miniature LED that is lit when that limb is applying force. This way it’s instantly obvious which parts of the trunk contribute the most to the motion .

Our goal is to distribute the computational complexity among the limbs. Rather than having “dumb” limbs manipulated by a fast central processor, we have “smart” limbs that do a substantial amount of calculations themselves.  The experimental snake has 15 limbs, each equipped with a 25 MIPS processor and we try to develop  algorithms that harness the parallelism  of such a system.


Videos - more coming soon

Snake resuming smooth motion from any initial position.

Low resolution (154K) WMV

High resolution (1.03MB) WMV


robotic snake

First test

Low resolution (233K) WMV

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