The Italian Almanac
It happens in Italy - January 7th
Synthetic snakes will unblock pipes and artificial ants will clean windows. The project by four Italian universities was inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci.
A robot worm already exists. It moves with longitudinal oscillations of its body and sees the world through cameras instead of eyes. It is excellent for endoscopies since it enters the body painlessly, takes a look and in an emergency can operate using tiny scalpels. The synthetic snake is still under development. At its presentation, scheduled in roughly a year’s time, it will move by slithering along with the undulating action of a real snake. It will be an infallible explorer of pipes, and will be able to unblock them with its rotors and blades. The worm and the snake are only two of the creatures from the robot zoo, a collection of hi-tech wonders, that is taking shape in Lucca and Pisa thanks to the collaboration of four universities.
The participants, the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna at Pisa, Milan Polytechnic, the University of Pisa and Rome’s Luiss University, have also set up the world’s first doctorate in Biorobotic Engineering and Science. “It’s a course and a center - called IMT Alti Studi - for new professional engineering profiles”, explains Paolo Dario, a member of the Scuola Sant’Anna staff and coordinator of the doctorate. “These engineers study the animal world in order to replicate its complexity, but at the same time they strive to enhance scientific, technical and humanistic knowledge. Just like the great Leonardo Da Vinci did”.