Monday, December 11, 2017

XMSnakeRobot - A rat-hunting snake robot

The Youtube Video - success with one segment - I am now building and joining 10 segments:

Why a Snake Robot? For hunting rats! Here in New Zealand we have rats etc, alien to these previously isolated islands, harming our much loved native bird populations including the national icon - the Kiwi. Think of a remote controlled small robot in the world of the rat and that world has mud, undergrowth and broken terrain where a snake form factor is worth trying. And we can get "bio-inspired" and realise that snakes are effective bio rat-hunters so it may be good to learn from them. This is an ambitious aim to build towards step by step with an indoor testbed first. If rat-hunting does not work out then there are plenty of other possibilities like robot circus performer and Youtube stardom. If cats can be stars on Youtube then maybe snake robots can be the next big thing!  

When I started this I thought snake robots were a regular thing in robotics and I would be adding value for rat hunting. As far as I can tell there is a lot of snake talk and not so much snake action. As in only a small number exist as one-off academic projects. This places this project more on the "cutting edge" than I expected which is a little scary-snake but also exciting that this can be something special.  

Part of the "Creative Repurposing of Accessible Technologies" Project at the Manukau Institute of Technology in New Zealand.
Here the Accessible Technologies are:
  • Low cost Android SmartPhone or Android SmartWatch for the robot "brain"
  • Arduino Nano microcontrollers for the robot "spinal cord"
  • Bluetooth HC-05 module as the link between "spinal cord" and "brain"
  • SG-90 model aircraft servos - 20 of them. 
  • The snake has 10 segments each of which has servos for horizontal and vertical movement.

XMSnakeRobot is an open source project on Github:

The license is "Apache 2.0" - "A permissive license whose main conditions require preservation of copyright and license notices". For anything mission critical or commercial it is best to check the license to be reassured that the license is supportive of what you want to do. Apache 2.0 has a good track record supporting a lot of projects and components which is why I chose it.


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