Date of Award

5-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Electrical Engineering

Committee Member

Dr. Ian D. Walker, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Richard E. Groff

Committee Member

Dr. Adam Hoover

Abstract

This thesis details a new design and novel operational strategies for nature inspired, thin "tendril" continuum robots. Instead of taking inspiration for robot design from insects or animals, the novel approach to continuum robotics herein takes inspiration and adapts operational concepts from plant life. In particular, an innovative strategy is developed which mimics behaviors observed in vines and other climbing plants. Specifically, a tendril robot with prickles was developed and deployed to actively seek environmental contact, exploiting the mechanical advantage gained by bracing against the environment using the prickles. The resulting performance enhancements over previously developed smooth backbone tendril robot designs, and use of strategies that do not attempt to interact with the environment are empirically demonstrated with the new robot prototype. Results of further experiments suggest applications in which the new design and approach could prove useful to the scientific and wider communities.

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