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Lateral oscillation and body compliance help snakes and snake robots stably traverse large, smooth obstacles
arXiv - CS - Systems and Control Pub Date : 2020-03-30 , DOI: arxiv-2003.13733
Qiyuan Fu; Sean W. Gart; Thomas W. Mitchel; Jin Seob Kim; Gregory S. Chirikjian; Chen Li

Snakes can move through almost any terrain. Similarly, snake robots hold the promise as a versatile platform to traverse complex environments like earthquake rubble. Unlike snake locomotion on flat surfaces which is inherently stable, when snakes traverse complex terrain by deforming their body out of plane, it becomes challenging to maintain stability. Here, we review our recent progress in understanding how snakes and snake robots traverse large, smooth obstacles that lack anchor points for gripping or bracing. First, we discovered that the generalist variable kingsnake combines lateral oscillation and cantilevering. Regardless of step height and surface friction, the overall gait is preserved. Next, to quantify static stability of the snake, we developed a method to interpolate continuous body in three dimensions (both position and orientation) between discrete tracked markers. By analyzing the base of support using the interpolated continuous body 3-D kinematics, we discovered that the snake maintained perfect stability during traversal, even on the most challenging low friction, high step. Finally, we applied this gait to a snake robot and systematically tested its performance traversing large steps with variable heights to further understand stability principles. The robot rapidly and stably traversed steps nearly as high as a third of its body length. As step height increased, the robot rolled more frequently to the extent of flipping over, reducing traversal probability. The absence of such failure in the snake with a compliant body inspired us to add body compliance to the robot. With better surface contact, the compliant body robot suffered less roll instability and traversed high steps at higher probability, without sacrificing traversal speed. Our robot traversed large step-like obstacles more rapidly than most previous snake robots, approaching that of the animal.
更新日期:2020-04-01

 

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