My work in the Socha Lab at Virginia Tech was my first introduction to research. I had the opportunity to research the biomechanics of flying snakes and jumping snakes, which are beautiful and adorable little snakes!
I started off analyzing motion capture (Vicon) data of flying snakes crossing gaps and utilizing ImageJ to analyze still images of similar experiments. I was then invited to help with field work in Australia’s Daintree Rainforest, where we searched for and collected locomotor and morphology data for relatives of the flying snake - the common tree snake and northern tree snake - which can jump but not fly.
Because snakes have a wide range of locomotor abilities, from maneuvering through small spaces to swimming to gliding, mimicking these abilities in robotic form has the potential to be extremely valuable. For example, in emergencies in which humans cannot maneuver, these robots could be used to overcome the obstacles that humans cannot.
Unfortunately Virginia Tech does not allow me to post pictures of the snakes we use in research, but below are some pictures from my travels. I also detailed my experience during my research abroad in a blog post on the Socha Lab website.