Howie Choset, an associate professor at CMU, engineered the robotic arm with various sensors so it can monitor and assess a soldier's condition. The are detectors on it can determine if a person is breathing. Eventually Choset hopes to attach an ultrasound that would allow the arm to detect internal bleeding. An oxygen mask can also be attached the robotic arm. Controlled wirelessly though a joystick, the arm has multiple joints allowing it to flex, retract and twist, allowing it the flexibility to do different tasks.
The team is collaborating with the U.S. Army's Life Support for Trauma and Transport system (LSTAT), a stretcher that is a basically a portable intensive-care unit that is being used in Iraq and Afghanistan. The problem with the LSTAT is that it's sensors need to be moved by hand, and assisting medics on the battlefield would be easy targets, something that the snake bot could help solve. Still the uses of the snake bot aren't limited to just biotechnology: Choset hopes to apply it to search and rescues, surgical procedures, bridge inspections, bomb disarming and more. [CMU via Technology Review]