Choset, Snakebot Visit NBC's Tonight Show

Byron SpiceTuesday, April 25, 2017

Professor Howie Choset watches while the snakebot slithers up Jimmy Fallon's leg on the April 25 episode of "The Tonight Show."

One of Robotics Professor Howie Choset's famous snake-like robots crawled up the even more famous leg of comedian Jimmy Fallon during an April 25 appearance on NBC's "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon."

"Slow down there, mister!" Fallon exclaimed as the robot reached his knee, much to the delight of the studio audience. The robot swung its head, which contains a video camera, and peered up at the host, as the view of Fallon's face was shared with "The Tonight Show's" nationwide audience.

Matt Travers, systems scientist in the Robotics Institute and co-director with Choset of the Biorobotics Lab, controlled the snakebot from off-stage.

Choset and the snakebot were joined on stage by Hanson Robotics' human-like Sophia robot and Festo AG's eMotion butterfly robots during the segment, the first of a recurring feature on the program called Tonight Showbotics.

Fallon expressed surprise at the pressure he felt as the device wrapped itself around his leg, and at the delicate-looking robot's firm grip.

"We can do it a little harder, if you like," Choset said.

"Oh no, please don't!" Fallon replied.

Choset explained how the unique architecture of the snake robot enables it to go places other robots can't — creeping through rubble, pipes and small spaces, and climbing up poles, pipes and even legs. It has applications in urban search and rescue, nuclear power plant inspection, and, in miniaturized form, surgery, he added.

Sophia followed snakebot's appearance, telling a joke to Fallon and challenging him to a game of "robot rock, paper, scissors." The eMotion butterflies closed the segment, with Fallon launching one of the lightweight robots over the audience, where it was joined by three additional butterfly robots.

Choset's research has long focused on snake robots, but more recently has branched into modular robots, in which modular pieces can be readily assembled into a variety of forms. Choset also is chief technology officer of the newly formed $250 million Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute.

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Byron Spice | 412-268-9068 |