Snake-like robot conquers obstacles

Mar 22, 2005
Snake-like robot conquers obstacles

A virtually unstoppable "snakebot" developed by a University of Michigan team that resembles a high-tech slinky as it climbs pipes and stairs, rolls over rough terrain and spans wide gaps to reach the other side.
The 26-pound robot developed at the University of Michigan U-M College of Engineering is, called OmniTread. It moves by rolling, log-style, or by lifting its head or tail, inchworm-like, and muscling itself forward. The robot's unique tread design prevents it from stalling on rough ground, said Research Professor Johann Borenstein, the head of the mobile robotics lab at U-M.

The snake-shaped serpentine robot is propelled along by moving treads that cover 80 percent of its body. These treads prevent the snakebot from stalling or becoming stuck on rough terrain because, similar to a tire touching a road, t the treads propel the robot forward like a tire touching a road. Historically, scientists haven't had much success with wheeled and tracked robots on rough terrain because they constantly stall.

A human operator controls the snakebot via a joystick and umbilical cord, which also provides electric power, which sends commands to specially designed software. A smaller, but more self-contained version that is now under development will carry on - board power for one hour of tetherless operation

The OmniTread is divided into five box-shaped segments connected through the middle by a long drive shaft spine that drives the tracks of all segments. Bellow s in the joints connecting the sections inflate or deflate to make the robot turn or lift the segments. The bellows provide enough torque for the OmniTread to lift the two front or rear segments to climb objects.

Snake-like robot conquers obstacles 2

In one test, the OmniTread climbed an 18-inch curb, which is over more than twice its height. It also crossed a 66 centimeter trench, which is half its length. In another test, it inched up a pipe by pushing against opposite walls.

The robot is ideal for hazardous inspections or surveillance in industrial or military applications Borenstein said. The research was to appear in the appears on the March 18 edition of the International Journal on Industrial Robots, in a special issue on mobile robots. The paper, "The OmniTread Serpentine Robot for Industrial Inspection and Surveillance, " was written by Borenstein and co-authors Malik Hansen and Grzegorz Granosik.

For a web video of OmniTread, see, and click on video clip: www.engin.umich.edu/research/mrl/00MoRob_6.html

Source: University of Michigan

Explore further: IBM tackles big data challenges with open server innovation model

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

FCC to propose pay-for-priority Internet standards

2 hours ago

The Federal Communications Commission is set to propose new open Internet rules that would allow content companies to pay for faster delivery over the so-called "last mile" connection to people's homes.

SK Hynix posts Q1 surge in net profit

2 hours ago

South Korea's SK Hynix Inc said Thursday its first-quarter net profit surged nearly 350 percent from the previous year on a spike in sales of PC memory chips.

Brazil enacts Internet 'Bill of Rights'

3 hours ago

Brazil's president signed into law on Wednesday a "Bill of Rights" for the digital age that aims to protect online privacy and promote the Internet as a public utility by barring telecommunications companies ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

SK Hynix posts Q1 surge in net profit

South Korea's SK Hynix Inc said Thursday its first-quarter net profit surged nearly 350 percent from the previous year on a spike in sales of PC memory chips.

FCC to propose pay-for-priority Internet standards

The Federal Communications Commission is set to propose new open Internet rules that would allow content companies to pay for faster delivery over the so-called "last mile" connection to people's homes.

Brazil enacts Internet 'Bill of Rights'

Brazil's president signed into law on Wednesday a "Bill of Rights" for the digital age that aims to protect online privacy and promote the Internet as a public utility by barring telecommunications companies ...

Phase transiting to a new quantum universe

(Phys.org) —Recent insight and discovery of a new class of quantum transition opens the way for a whole new subfield of materials physics and quantum technologies.

Imaging turns a corner

(Phys.org) —Scientists have developed a new microscope which enables a dramatically improved view of biological cells.