Sensor-filled Guardian S snakebot can even slither vertically up walls

Have a reconnaissance job that’s too dangerous or difficult to access to send in a person? Maybe it’s time to deploy a snake robot!

That’s what Utah-based robotics company Sarcos has developed with Guardian S, a rugged, waterproof snakebot that’s capable of shimmying across virtually any type of terrain, through thin pipes, and up stairs. Heck, it can even rear up like a cobra, or crawl directly up walls, courtesy of its magnetized body.

“Most current ground-based mobile robots have limited mobility over challenging terrain, substantially more limited range, shorter battery life, and significantly more weight,” Sarcos chairman and CEO Ben Wolff told Digital Trends. “The Guardian S represents not just an improvement, but a quantum leap forward, in unmanned ground vehicle platforms. [It’s] designed for mobility and is adept at traversing difficult terrain, fitting into confined spaces with openings 5 inches or more, that are inaccessible by humans and other ground-based robots, and climbing vertically or up stairs.”

The Guardian S snakebot is able to do this thanks to its unique design. While many previous robotics solutions have been designed with a two-track, tank-like configuration, the Guardian S utilizes forward and rear tracks and an articulated center section that provides much greater mobility. It can run for up to 18 hours, and is controlled using a video game-style controller.

As it travels, Guardian S gathers data using its various sensors, which include infrared, radiation, gas and vibration detection, GPS, accelerometer, 3D mapping, and 360-degree video with low-light capabilities.

But while it sounds like the greatest robot toy ever, Wolff noted that the Guardian S is really designed for serious purposes. Those might be applications including SWAT, explosive ordinance disposal, HAZMAT, fire, or disaster recovery — basically any scenario in which it’s not safe or desirable to deploy a human being.

In essence, it’s the ultimate robot of its kind — although don’t expect it to be cheap. Sarcos is currently taking pre-orders, with the base price coming in at $60,000, and further customization costing extra. The company is additionally considering a $2,000 per month price tier, which would include upgrades, training, and the like. The Guardian S will commence shipping (or should we say “slithering”) in August.

That’s not the only astonishing robot Sarcos has developed, though. It has also created an amazing Guardian GT robot, a human-controlled, force-multiplying robotic dual-armed system that allows users to lift payloads of up to 1,000 pounds at a time. Another project in development is a full bodysuit exoskeleton, designed to improve human strength and endurance.

Needless to say, we probably haven’t heard the last of this innovative company.