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Randy Atkins: The scales on a snake’s belly turn out to be a key to its movement. David Hu, a Georgia Tech mechanical engineer, says they’re designed like overlapping shingles…easily sliding in one direction, and digging in in the other.
David Hu: We could account for 65-percent of the snake’s speed simply based on the properties of the scales alone.
Randy Atkins: Hu says most of the rest comes from the snake shifting its weight.
David Hu: It can push its scales against the ground in directions that will actually generate friction that will force it to move forward.
Randy Atkins: If engineers can mimic snake movements, applications might include robots that can slither into disaster scenes or even our bodies. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, 103 point 5 F-M and WTOP-dot-com.