The OmniTread serpentine robot: design and field performance

Johann Borenstein, Grzegorz Granosik, Malik Hansen, Grant R. Gerhart, Charles M. Shoemaker, Douglas W. Gage
2005 Unmanned Ground Vehicle Technology VII  
This paper describes the design and performance of the OmniTread serpentine robot, developed at the University of Michigan. Serpentine robots are mobile robots that comprise of multiple rigid segments, connected by actuated joints. The segments usually have drive elements, such as wheels or tracks. To date, we have developed two versions of the OmniTread. The larger version, called "OT-8," has five rigid segments and four 2-Degree-of-Freedom (2-DOF) joints, and it can drive through an 8-inch
more » ... meter opening. The OT8 is fully functional and this paper documents experimental results for the OT-8. The smaller and newer version, called "OT-4," will have seven segments, six 2-DOF joints, and it will fit through a 4-inch diameter hole. The OT-4 is not yet completely built, but its design is mostly completed and key improvements over the OT-8 have been bench tested. The foremost and unique design characteristic of the OmniTread is the use of pneumatic bellows to actuate the joints. The pneumatic bellows allow the simultaneous control of position and stiffness for each joint. Controllable stiffness is of crucial importance in serpentine robots, which require stiff joints to cross gaps and compliant joints to conform to rough terrain for effective propulsion. Another unique feature of the OmniTread design is the maximal coverage of all four sides of each segment with driven tracks. This design makes the robot indifferent to roll-overs, which are bound to happen when the long and slender bodies of serpentine robots travel over rugged terrain.
doi:10.1117/12.601486 fatcat:rlocwbiqrjerffjgrds5r6mzuy