Right now it’s just a proof of principle, but according to the article “[its developer, Dimitra Dodou (Delft University of Technology)] plans to test a prototype snail-bot carrying a camera, a tool for taking biopsies and a communications link inside a length of pig gut.”
I say: Chutes & Ladders in FRC 2008!
(I get a little envious to think that this is the kind of stuff some our biomedically-oriented students might be working with when they start their careers)
I remember a big announcement several years ago that scientists were studying the snail mucous because it had some incredible properties. i.e. it became a near solid when pressure was exerted by the snail’s underside for forward locomotion but it also was an incredible lubricant after the snail had passed. Scientists thought at that time, a duplicate might make a really low loss transmission/clutch. Haven’t heard much about it since.
Good call Al! For more than you probably want to know about the subject, here’s a paper that discusses invertebrate mucus properties. They speculate that these critters control their mucus’ adhesive and locomotive properties by protein expression.