An Orientation-Independent, Soft Branch Climbing Robot Based Off Manduca Sexta

Shane Rozen-Levy1, Barry Trimmer1

  • 1Tufts University

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Abstract

A soft climbing robot has the potential to access locations such as wiring ducts and tree canopies that are unreachable by humans and traditional rigid robots. In addition to conforming to complex shapes, a soft robot is robust and can fall without damaging itself or its environment. In this poster, we present a soft orientation-independent, climbing robot that is inspired by the passive gripping mechanisms used by caterpillars. A key innovation is that grip release is actively controlled and coordinated with propulsion generated by stored elastic energy. The robot is molded from silicone rubber and actuated using remote motor-tendons coupled to the structure through Bowden cables. Grip is achieved passively through an elastic flexure that pushes a compliant finger against the dowel. This is supplemented by sharp hooks (analogous to caterpillar crochets) on the inner surface. Experimental results show that the gripper is easily able to support the weight of the robot, and that the body structure allows the robot to crawl horizontally, vertically, and along a wooden dowel.

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