The OmniTread OT-4 serpentine robot—design and performance

Johann Borenstein, Malik Hansen, Adam Borrell
2007 Journal of Field Robotics  
Serpentine robots are slender, multi-segmented vehicles designed to provide greater mobility than conventional mobile robots. Serpentine robots are ideally suited for urban search and rescue, military intelligence gathering, and inspection tasks in hazardous or inaccessible environments. One such serpentine robot, developed at the University of Michigan, is the "OmniTread OT-4." The OT-4 comprises seven segments, which are linked to each other by six joints. The OT-4 can climb over obstacles
more » ... t are much higher than the robot itself, propel itself inside pipes of different diameters, and traverse difficult terrain, such as rocks or the rubble of a collapsed structure. The foremost and unique design characteristic of the OT-4 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 important 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 coverage of all four sides of each segment with drive tracks. This design makes the robot indifferent to rollovers, which are bound to happen when the slender bodies of serpentine robots travel over rugged terrain. This paper describes the OmniTread concept and some of its technical features in some detail. In the Experiment Results Section, photographs of successful obstacle traverses illustrate the abilities of the OT-4.
doi:10.1002/rob.20196 fatcat:p7c4tjet4rfcrfjdeuudgsxtju