The Busker Snake Project

online from : August 23, 2008

Busking Snake
Busking Snake

Nature has created many sophisticated creatures. One of the most interesting is the snake whose remarkable body structure allows it fast movement on the ground, exibility to pass around obstacles and even swim. Another extraordinary ability which some snakes have (e.q. cobra) is to lift the upper part of their body and keep it vertical by balancing its weight. This phenomenom can be observed when a magician is "charming" a snake by playing a flute.

People have tried to recreate snake movement abilities in machines but have not fully succeeded. This challenge fills the mind of many researchers and some models can be found in different areas (e.g medicine and military science). For example, in medicine flexibility of mechanism is needed in new types of surgery tools, which have to be flexible enough to bypass and not damage essential organs while moving towards the surgery target. In military science, mechanism flexibility is useful in exploring urban areas while identifying potential danger and staying out of sight. Flexible snake-shaped robots could also bring vital help to trapped people during post earth-quake rescue operations by allowing the robots to pass through complex structures (e.g. holes, pipes).

To the best of the authors knowledge, the mechanical implementation of a robotic snake is still an open technological challenge. The proposed project will be divided into two parts; the first, focusing on the mechanical part will include familiarisation with the existing technologies, proposing an improvement and implementing it into a snake shaped prototype. The second part of the project will focus on the control and movement aspect of the mechanism. Students working on this part would need to program in the control architecture of the device considering its kinematics and dynamics.

As the outcome of the project, in addition to the research into mechanisms, the completed device can be presented from an "arts" perspective. For example it might be seen as a moving sculpture which can be programmed to dance for a busking musician.

Useful Information


Team Members



  • Ghouse, Shaaz
  • Purves, Iain

Links to other Snake projects


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