Robot snake learns secrets of sidewinders

With the help of a robot, US researchers have described for the first time precisely how "sidewinder" rattlesnakes climb up sand dunes.

By observing snakes on an artificial dune, they found that on steeper slopes the animals flatten themselves to increase their contact with the sand.

They then tested the new insights with a robotic snake and calculated the best strategy for snakes - and robots - to scale sandy slopes without slipping.

The work appears in Science Magazine.

Unstable, granular surfaces like sand dunes pose a particular problem for animals and robots trying to traverse them.

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