CMU and Pitt show us what the future will look like at Obama’s Frontiers Conference

Snake monsters, a Socially Aware Robot Assistant and more.

President Barack Obama speaks at Carnegie Mellon University on Thursday as part of the White House Frontiers Conference.

President Barack Obama speaks at Carnegie Mellon University on Thursday as part of the White House Frontiers Conference.

Jasmine Goldband / The Incline
MJ Slaby

Updated 5:47 p.m.

President Barack Obama was in Pittsburgh today — but not to stump for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Instead, he was here for a conference.

The president went to the White House Frontiers Conference on the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University campuses. From health care to space to robot assistants, the conference was all about the latest technology and the future.

Want to know what the future looks like? We asked exhibitors from CMU and Pitt.

These are just four of the inventions they had on display throughout the conference. An exhibit hall was open to the public from 9 to 11 a.m., that featured more robots, health innovations and NASA displays to reflect the themes of the conference. (See the list of exhibits.)

Snake robot and snake monster: 3 to 5 years

Carnegie Mellon University Bio Robotics Laboratory students demonstrate the Snake Robot and Snake Monster at the White House Frontiers Conference in Oct 2016.

Carnegie Mellon University Bio Robotics Laboratory students demonstrate the Snake Robot and Snake Monster at the White House Frontiers Conference.

Jasmine Goldband / THE INCLINE

Right now, if there is a place that’s too dangerous for humans to go or an opening is too small for humans — like in a collapsed building — the only choice is to use a cable or a camera on a stick, said Matt Travers, co-director of the Biorobotics Lab at CMU where the robots were developed.

But the 2-inch diameter snake robot can go into those areas. It can be used for search and rescue as well as inspections at oil refineries and nuclear facilities, Travers said. Plus it can be used for archaeology, too, and has been to the pyramids in Giza.

The snake “monster,” however, can walk up and down steps and can be converted to have fewer legs or become a snake if needed, he said.

Travers said the hope is that robots are out helping with inspections — such as seals on pipes — within three to five years.

Flying Robot: 5 years