Snake Robot Locomotion

Snake Robot Locomotion


[music] The reason that we study snakes is that they can move through almost any kind of environment People have created snake-like robots to replicate their mobility but very challenging for them is large obstacles that are really smooth. We want to see how snakes can traverse large obstacles while maintaining stability. We studied the king snake. It is a generalist, meaning that it can live and move well in many kinds of environments. We found that the snake uses what we call a “partitioned gait” which people haven’t described before The snake will use the front and the rear part of the body to undulate laterally, both above and below the step like a wave But then the body section in the middle will simply lift itself up and maintains a straight shape in the air which is called cantilevering So we first built our robot and designed a control algorithm to generate this kind of wavelike oscillation pattern It was able to traverse the large step but is much less stable and often gets stuck and slips a whole lot So we hypothesized that this “passive compliance” of the biological snake body is key to their ability to maintain good support. So what we did is to add this car-like suspension basically a simple spring between the body and the wheels. And what that does is allow the wheels to maintain good contact no matter how the body wobbles We found that when we do that our robots have better performance compared to most previous snake robots It’s able to traverse large steps at very high probability but our ultimate goal is to understand much, much more complex terrain You can think of a forest floor or earthquake rubble as the ultimate things that we want to traverse

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