Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Tuesday, November 27, 2001

China Develops Snake Robot

A bionic robot in the form of a real snake invented by the National Defense Science and Technology University of China, made its first public show Monday in Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan Province. The invention is a breakthrough in China's study of the movements of robots.


Robot Snake Appears in China (2)
A robot shaped like a snake that can crawl on the ground has lately been developed with the endeavor of five postgraduates from the National Defense Science and Technology University. It marks a breakthrough in China's robot developing field.

At a length of 1.2 meter and a diameter of 0.06 meter, the 1.8 kilogram-weighted snake can crawl on the ground or grass like a real one, able to go forward and backward, turn round and speed up with a top speed reaching 20 meters per minute. Equipped with video camera as its "eyes", it can transmit scenes before it to computers and receive remote-sensing orders through the control center installed in its head. Cloaked in a "snake skin" it can also swim in water.

As a new type of bionic robot, it is different from any traditional wheeled or two-footed robot that realizes movements without "feet". It has qualities of reasonable structure, flexible control and steady performance. It can be applied to many circumstances, such as conducting reconnaissance in battlefield or environments of radiation, dust and poison, looking for injured people in racks and ruins after earthquake, landslide and fire, probing and dredging narrow and dangerous tubes and providing experiment platform for studies on mathematics, mechanics, cybernetic theory and artificial intelligence.

Robot Industry on Fast Track

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Robots have become an indispensable factor in China's modernization drive, and no longer a figment of the imagination appearing only in science-fiction books.

Now, nobody doubts that the level of robot deployment is a measurement of a country's industrial strength.

State-of-the-art robots have a large market potential across the country. From automobile plants and steel workshops to the tertiary industries, robot technology is important in improving productivity.

He Qinghua, chief inventor of China's first tunnel-construction robot at the Central and South China University, in Changsha recalled that his invention project was started in a run-down workshop with nothing more complicated in the way of tools than hammers, over a decade ago.

The competition in the research area is equally intensive.

Besides the construction robot produced in Hunan, the Harbin Industrial University, in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, has developed cleaning and reception robots, and the Shenyang Automation Institute under the Chinese Academy of Sciences has developed a mobile installation robot and a point welding robot.

Financing Still a Problem
Financing, however, is a problem for the automation industry. Professor He said that he is now involved in transforming the Hunan Shanhe Intelligence Machinery Co. into a share-holding robot research and development company.

"Amassing funds in the capital market will help provide robot research with sufficient funds to boost this fledgling industry, " said He.

Zhang Bo, an academician with the academy, said that China's robots can be expected to reach the world's top level soon.

By PD Online Staff Li Heng

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