OmniTread OT-4 serpentine robot: new features and experiments

Johann Borenstein, Malik Hansen, Grant R. Gerhart, Douglas W. Gage, Charles M. Shoemaker
2007 Unmanned Systems Technology IX  
Serpentine robots are slender, multi-segmented vehicles designed to provide greater mobility than conventional wheeled or tracked robots. Serpentine robots are thus ideally suited for urban search and rescue, military intelligence gathering, and for surveillance and inspection tasks in hazardous and hard-to-reach 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
more » ... of-freedom joints. The OT-4 can climb over obstacles that are much higher than the robot itself, propel itself inside pipes of different diameters, and traverse even the most 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. These bellows allow 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 with driven tracks. This design makes the robot indifferent to roll-overs, which are happen frequently when the slender bodies of serpentine robots travel over rugged terrain. This paper describes the OmniTread concept as well as its latest technical features, and an extensive Experiment Results Section documents the abilities of the OT-4.
doi:10.1117/12.717754 fatcat:vrbxwffuzvdspmvnqovx6k6k2q