"I'm afraid of snakes," Howie Choset, the inventor of the Robosnake, admitted in a video interview with The Huffington Post. "Snake robots, on the other hand, they appear so nice and friendly. They're not intimidating."
Though snake robots may not be as scary as real snakes, they're certainly as impressive. Their movement is based on a snake's biology, but they are capable of twisting in ways their flesh-and-blood cousins can't.
"They can climb poles, withstand water pressure up to 200 feet deep and maneuver through ductwork. They can get into locations that people and conventional machinery otherwise cannot," Choset explained.
"We're able to produce motions that biology can't produce, like grabbing onto a pole, forming a helix and rolling up the helix," the inventor said. Real snakes can climb trees, too, but not like this.
"Robosnake" may initially seem like a novelty technology, until you list the applications: assisting in surgery, inspecting nuclear power plants, helping in rescue missions and even exploring archeological ruins. "We get a pair of eyes into a location that otherwise would have been inaccessible, or could have been accessed, but with lots of disassembly," Choset explains.
Much of the technology we interact with daily, like elevators and dishwashers, could be thought of as robots, even though call them such. Choset wants the same status for his invention.
"I will know it's a success when people just think of it as another tool and it doesn't even enter their mind, 'Hey, this is a robot,'" he said.