Seeing a walking snake is a little unnerving, even if you’re not one of the many people who are afraid of it. But that’s exactly what happens when YouTuber Allen Pan builds a robotic lizard body for the snakes. When the boa accepts its viral video fate and walks around, it’s actually quite cute. Pan jokingly claims that the snake actually wants legs, but he’s probably just confused by the whole situation.
Pan has a few false starts with the project, thankfully using a stuffed snake to try out the prototypes. And while I’m not afraid of snakes, the idea of a snake with spider legs is horrifying. The final design is much less scary. It uses a series of programmable servos and a wireless controller that looks like a car key fob.
Pan refers to his previous video about trying to smuggle snakes through airport security in a hat and is sure to set up the experiment so the snake can retreat. It turns out to be relatively simple, and it honestly looks like the chosen snake is perfectly happy to go for a walk. Or it could just be a more misunderstood natural behavior, like sea snakes “attacking” by coiling around people’s legs because they feel in love.
Pan visits a Petco to watch some lizards and get the perfect leg moves. Scientists are studying this in order to make wriggling robots more adaptable for search and rescue operations or even on Mars. More reptilian robots are on the way, as scientists also study snake locomotion. Like the invasive brown tree snakes in Guam that lasso themselves to raid bird nests. Or snakes that can slip from tree to tree. So expect to see some wild snake robots in the future!
Melissa is Nerdist’s science and technology editor. She also leads “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth.