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Snakes and Snake-like Robots Show How Sidewinders Conquer Sandy Slopes
The amazing ability of sidewinder snakes to quickly climb sandy slopes was once something biologists only vaguely understood and roboticists only dreamed of replicating. By studying the snakes in a unique bed of inclined sand and using a snake-like robot to test ideas spawned by observing the real animals, both biologists and roboticists have now gained long-sought insights. In a study published in the October 10 issue of the journal Science, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Oregon State University, and Zoo Atlanta report that sidewinders improve their ability to traverse sandy slopes by simply increasing the amount of their body area in contact with the granular surfaces they’re climbing.

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