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  Robot caterpillar helps disaster victims
Updated 08 November 2001, 12.41

Scientists have invented a "robot caterpillar" which can dig through rubbish to look for earthquake survivors.

The caterpillar, which is just a few centimetres wide, has been programmed to burrow through debris and look for people.

The team of scientists who invented the device said they were inspired by the human action which moves food along the intestine, called peristalsis.

Tight spaces

The caterpillar is made up of a series of rubber sections, which are filled with magnetic fluid, New Scientist magazine said.

When a magnetic current is passed through the caterpillar, it causes it to move forwards, even through the tightest spaces.

Scientists from the Akita Prefectural University in Japan, who invented the caterpillar, said lights and cameras could be fitted onto its head to help it seek out survivors.


 
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