NASA’s JPL Developed a Snake Robot Named EELS

by | May 9, 2023 | Autonomous

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is testing a versatile robot that can autonomously explore previously inaccessible destinations, mapping and traversing them on its own. The team behind the creation of this snake-like robot, named EELS (short for Exobiology Extant Life Surveyor), is adopting a startup mentality of building quickly, testing often, and making adjustments based on learning. The robot’s primary objective is to search for signs of life in the ocean beneath the icy crust of Saturn’s moon, Enceladus. However, its design has made it adaptable to traverse various terrains on Earth, the Moon, and beyond, including undulating sand and ice, cliff walls, craters too steep for rovers, underground lava tubes, and labyrinthine spaces within glaciers. The goal of EELS is to send a versatile, risk-aware robot that can make decisions on its own in uncertain and challenging environments.

EELS is tested in the sandy terrain of JPL’s Mars Yard in April. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The development of EELS has been supported by the Office of Technology Infusion and Strategy at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, through the JPL Next technology accelerator program. JPL, which is managed by Caltech in Pasadena, California, has collaborated with various university partners, including Arizona State University, Carnegie Mellon University, and University of California, San Diego, to create this robot. However, at present, EELS is not part of any NASA mission.

For more information please visit the JPL website:

JPL’s Snake-Like EELS Slithers Into New Robotics Terrain (

by: Bill Parson

by: Bill Parson

Bill is an accomplished editor with a passion for robotics and emerging technologies. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for concise communication, he plays a pivotal role in developing and publishing content for SimplyBots. His deep interest in the field of robotics stems from his fascination with the potential of intelligent machines to transform various aspects of our lives.

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