OSAKA -- Researchers at Japan's Kyoto University have developed a snakelike robot that can be sent underwater to inspect submerged facilities or search for missing people after a storm.
Measuring 15cm in diameter and slightly less than 1 meter in length, the robot, developed by a team led by the university's professor Fumitoshi Matsuno, can swim into narrow openings. Its wiggling movements make it ideal for applications such as inspecting underwater facilities or pipes.
It can also dive into debris-filled water after a tsunami or typhoon to search for missing people.
The robot is made up of small segments connected by joints and is remotely controlled using a video game joystick.
The researchers hope to work with manufacturers to further develop the robot for practical use.
Most existing underwater robots are intended for scientific observation and are too cumbersome for what this new machine can do, the researchers said.
The robot, when camera is attached, can capture images of submerged equipment to check for cracks and other abnormalities.
Wheels can also be attached to the robot to make it amphibious, according to Matsuno.