A battery powered gyroscope spins out of balance which causes vibrations.

These vibrations are given direction by angled brush bristles on the base, effectively moving over 10,000 legs to make 30 steps each every second …. About 1/3 million tiny paces a second!

Originally the gyroscope also steered the snail automatically because any deviations from a straight line result in precession of the gyro, which gave a change of weight distribution over the bristles which in turn corrected the deviation. 

It’s a bit like a skier leaning harder on one ski to turn.

However for its 2nd appearance in 2003 it was upgraded and fitted with a ‘beard’ of angled bristles that were turned by a radio controlled servo to give active steering.

In it first appearance in 2002 it took 2min 45 seconds to do 15m (being thrashed by Scuttle in the next lane).

However in the 2003 games with its improved steering it took just 1 min 40, fast enough to win the bronze medal and a reputation as the fastest snail in the world (at about 0.33 mph!)

It was made in the garage at weekends, with the larger brass (weights to bring it up to 1kg minimum weight) made in an engineering workshop.

It is an upside down version of a patented biscuit and cake handling device that Adrian designed a few years back for putting Mr Kipling cakes into lanes (see ‘Doormat’ lane aligning example on this site).