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Proceedings Paper

Design and experimental gait analysis of a multi-segment in-pipe robot inspired by earthworm's peristaltic locomotion
Author(s): Hongbin Fang; Chenghao Wang; Suyi Li; Jian Xu; K. W. Wang
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Paper Abstract

This paper reports the experimental progress towards developing a multi-segment in-pipe robot inspired by earthworm’s body structure and locomotion mechanism. To mimic the alternating contraction and elongation of a single earthworm’s segment, a robust, servomotor based actuation mechanism is developed. In each robot segment, servomotor-driven cords and spring steel belts are utilized to imitate the earthworm’s longitudinal and circular muscles, respectively. It is shown that the designed segment can contract and relax just like an earthworm’s body segment. The axial and radial deformation of a single segment is measured experimentally, which agrees with the theoretical predictions. Then a multisegment earthworm-like robot is fabricated by assembling eight identical segments in series. The locomotion performance of this robot prototype is then extensively tested in order to investigate the correlation between gait design and dynamic locomotion characteristics. Based on the principle of retrograde peristalsis wave, a gait generator is developed for the multi-segment earthworm-like robot, following which gaits of the robot can be constructed. Employing the generated gaits, the 8-segment earthworm-like robot can successfully perform both horizontal locomotion and vertical climb in pipes. By changing gait parameters, i.e., with different gaits, locomotion characteristics including average speed and anchor slippage can be significantly tailored. The proposed actuation method and prototype of the multi-segment in-pipe robot as well as the gait generator provide a bionic realization of earthworm’s locomotion with promising potentials in various applications such as pipeline inspection and cleaning.

Paper Details

Date Published: 8 March 2014
PDF: 13 pages
Proc. SPIE 9055, Bioinspiration, Biomimetics, and Bioreplication 2014, 90550H (8 March 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2044262
Show Author Affiliations
Hongbin Fang, Univ. of Michigan (United States)
Tongji Univ. (China)
Chenghao Wang, Univ. of Michigan (United States)
Suyi Li, Univ. of Michigan (United States)
Jian Xu, Tongji Univ. (China)
K. W. Wang, Univ. of Michigan (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9055:
Bioinspiration, Biomimetics, and Bioreplication 2014
Akhlesh Lakhtakia, Editor(s)

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