Feeds

Important breakthrough in mole-cruiser technology

Thick metal tentacle-craft clad in latex sock

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Good news for mole-cruiser fanciers today, as boffins reveal important new developments in the technology of burrowing subterranean machines.

Poster art for the 70s film of At the Earth's Core by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Traditional mole cruiser in action.

The new underground locomotion tech comes from Professor Daniel Goldman of Georgia Tech and his colleagues, funded in their mechanical mole research by the US Army and National Science Foundation. The prof and his team were inspired by the sandfish lizard of the Sahara desert, which "swims" through the sand seas there.

"We were intrigued by the sandfish lizard’s wedge-shaped head that forms an angle of 140 degrees with the horizontal plane," explains Goldman. "We thought its head might be responsible for or be contributing to the animal’s ability to maneuver in complex environments."

The boffins fashioned a small unmanned demonstrator mole-craft featuring seven articulated segments powered by servo motors. These were apparently "packed in a latex sock and wrapped in a spandex swimsuit". The necessary wedgey "tapered snout" was furnished by attaching a suitable block of wood.

In trials during which it was submerged in a chamber filled with tiny plastic balls, the mole machine's ability to direct its course by changing the angle of its doorstop proboscis was explored.

"The ability to control the vertical position of the robot by modulating its head inclination opens up avenues for further research into developing robots more capable of maneuvering in complex environments, like debris-filled areas produced by an earthquake or landslide," says Goldman.

There are other applications, perhaps more interesting to the prof's military sponsors. We have reported previously on Pentagon plans for the so-called Robotic Underground Munition (RUM), a burrowing mole-missile able to attack such targets as the deeply buried uranium centrifuge bunkers at Natanz in Iran.

It would also, of course, be possible to substitute a crew compartment for the RUM's warhead and add controls for a pilot. Then the long-awaited mole cruiser, navigating beneath the surface of the Earth by means of lightning-plotter 'sferic' beacons, would have become reality at last.

This is important to allow for the real world appearance of such so-far-fictional figures as the Underminer, an excellent supervillain who appears briefly at the end of The Incredibles. Almost his only line is:

"I am beneath you – but NOTHING is beneath me!"

There's more from Georgia Tech here. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.