UK-based OC Robotics specializes in what they call "snake-arm robots," which have two distinct benefits: 1) They can work in confined spaces, and 2) They scare the living bejeezus out of most people, which can keep troublesome employees in line and co-worker quarrels to a minimum. Strangely, the company doesn't mention the second benefit in their literature.
Our snake-arm robots are designed specifically for remote handling operations within confined or hazardous spaces. Where snake-arm robots excel is in their long, slender and flexible design; they can effortlessly fit through small openings and around obstacles. They do not have prominent elbows that potentially snag or cause damage to sensitive equipment and they are easily manoeuvred into position and retracted back without disturbing their environment.
That's right, the environment is not disturbed—just the people who witness the machines in action. Check out their latest, given the friendly name of the Series 2-X125:
While the Series 2-X125 is fitted with a camera and a waterjet, I was thinking: Wouldn't it be cool if they could kit this thing out with some kind of flexible driveshaft and have it take milling bits? If they could find a way to deal with the rigidity-vs.-vibration issues of milling, this thing would make one bad-ass CNC mill. Never mind working all six sides of a workpiece; this thing could carve into ceilings, walls, the outsides of buildings, you name it. And if you could make it do your bidding while rolling around on some kind of mobile base, you'd essentially have unchallenged power over every other firm in your industrial park.