2009: The Year in Innovation

hydras, virginia tech, snake robot
Photo by Dan Saelinger
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A Robot That Climbs

Okay, so it looks a bit wacky, and its description – a snake-like robot that can roll up a pole – might seem a bit weird, too. But eventually, the HyDRAS (Hyperredundant Discrete Robotic Articulated Serpentine), developed by Virgina Tech professor Dennis Hong, will be able to climb scaffolding and perform dangerous tasks – inspecting an oil and gas pipeline, for example, or the underside of a bridge.